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The Tale of Shamrocks and How Four Leaf Clovers Bring Luck

Updated on July 16, 2014

A Little Bit o' Shamrock History

A shamrock is a three leaf clover from the variety white clover or Trifloium repens. Other varieties of clover can be considered shamrock but the white clover is the original variety recognized as shamrock. The word shamrock is derived from the Irish word seamrog. The shamrock is the symbol of Ireland. The three leaves of the shamrock represent the Holy Trinity; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit and the shamrock is traditionally worn on the lapel for St. Patrick's Day. Even before the shamrock was special to Christians as the Holy Trinity, it was special to Druids since it represented a triad. The triad stood for body, mind and spirit.

A four leaf clover is usually a three leaf clover variety that has grown a fourth leaf. The odds of finding a four leaf clover are estimated to be 1 in 10,000. Technically a four leaf clover cannot be considered a shamrock since the shamrock symbolizes the three faces of the Holy Trinity. However, the four leaf clover has been a symbol of good luck for many centuries. Finding a clover with more than four leaves does not bring the finder more luck. The four leaves stand for hope, faith, love and the last leaf or the fourth, stands for luck.

Did you know? The flag of the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada contains a shamrock in the corner as the Irish population was one of the four major ethnicities that made up Montreal in the 19th century when the flag was designed. Shaquille O'Neal gave himself the nickname of the "Big Shamrock" after he joined the Boston Celtics basketball team. The Irish National Quidditch team from Harry Potter tales used the shamrock as their team emblem. The shamrock is a registered trademark of Ireland.

How Clovers and Shamrocks Bring Good Luck

Shamrocks are used to bring good luck to both brides and grooms. The brides use shamrock in their bouquets while grooms wear them in boutonniere on their lapels. Brides and grooms are not the only people to benefit from the luck of a shamrock. In times of famine, shamrock and clover kept people from starving to death by being eaten. Clover was held in high esteem by Celts. They felt it could chase away evil spirits and protect them from harm.

Universally, the four leaf clover is an emblem of good luck. It has been said that Eve from the bible carried one. Where she stored it will remain a mystery. The Druids appreciated the four leaf clover as a symbol of good luck. Today, the four leaf clover is still a symbol of good luck.

Many poets have written of the mystique of clover.

Emily Dickinson wrote "His Labor is a chant - His idleness - a Tune- oh, for a bee's experience of Clover, and of Noon!"

Stanislaw J. Lek is quoted "If a man who cannot count finds a four-leaf clover, is he lucky?"

A traditional Irish blessing goes something like this:

"May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,

And may trouble avoid you where ever you go."

Grow Your Own Lucky Clover and Shamrock

Grow Your Own Clover

Clover is easy to grow and can be started from seed packets in a window box, clay pots on a counter or seedling trays. Use a loose soil that drains well to plant your clover seeds. Sprinkle seeds over soil and then place a thin layer of soil over the seeds. Water lightly and keep soil moist. Seeds will germinate quickly and you will see the plants pop up in a few days. Misting works well to water the small seeds so that you do not damage them.

You will only see two clover leaves appear at first. Eventually, the third leaf appears. Clover plant will flower and it can be cut back and groomed with a pair of scissors. Will you be the lucky 1 in 10,000 to find yourself a four leaf clover in the plants you have grown? Happy hunting!



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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Wow I never about clovers! It all started when my six year old daughter was intensely interested in finding a four leaved clover because one of her friends found one so she knew she was going to find one. And boy did we in a span of a fortnight (about two weeks) we have found over fifty mostly by a creek near our home so that's why I have been doing a little research. Thanks for this info!

    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks Docmo. I think the shamrock pendants are sweet and I love anything symbolic. Hope your wife loved it!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      6 years ago from UK

      Very interesting - bought a cute shamrock pendant for my wife after a trip to Ireland. Love the Stanislaw Lem quote! Voted up.

    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northfield, MA


      thank you for sharing.

    • thost profile image


      6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Very good Hub, thank you for sharing. Vote up and posted on stumbleupon.

    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Suzie ONeil,

      Thanks for checking this out! I love the idea of putting clover in a brides bouquet!

    • Suzie ONeill profile image

      Suzie ONeill 

      6 years ago from Lost in La La Land

      Interesting hub! I was only familiar with part of the history. Thanks for filling in the gaps! :)


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