How did the shamrock become the symbol of Saint Patrick's Day?
Life & Style

How did the shamrock become the symbol of Saint Patrick's Day?

SAINT PATRICK'S Day is getting ever-closer, and while it's not going to be the massive celebration we hoped for, it's still a highly important day.

Sure there'll be no big parades, the pubs won't be packed to the rafters, the church choir won't be belting out songs, but we can still observe the meaning around the day itself.

So who was Saint Patrick, why do we celebrate Saint Patrick's Day and why is the shamrock the symbol of Saint Patrick's Day?

Who was Saint Patrick?

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Saint Patrick is lauded as the man who helped bring Christianity to Ireland, which had previously been a pagan country whose citizens worshipped old Celtic gods.

Patrick was not, in fact, Irish-- his parents were Roman citizens and the family lived in Scotland or Wales. Patrick was kidnapped from his home country at the age of 16 and brought to Ireland where he was forced into slavery, working as a shepherd until the age of 22 when he escaped with the help of divine intervention.

Why do we celebrate Saint Patrick's Day?

After escaping slavery in Ireland, Patrick later returned to with the mission of converting the Irish people to Christianity-- something which nobody believed was possible at the time, but as we all know now, he did a fairly thorough job.

Patrick is said to have performed many miracles during his time in Ireland to prove he had  the Christian God on his side, convincing more and more people to leave their pagan beliefs behind.

Of course, the most famous act Saint Patrick is said to have done is banish all of the snakes from Ireland, miraculously driving them all into the sea.

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Two millennia later and the people of Ireland, still a majority Catholic country thanks to Saint Patrick's mission, celebrate Saint Patrick's Day to give thanks to him for showing them Christianity and for ridding the snakes from Ireland.

Why is the shamrock the symbol of Saint Patrick's Day?

Shamrocks grow in abundance across the Emerald Isle, and are sometimes used simply as a symbol of Ireland.

But why is the shamrock the symbol of Saint Patrick's Day? Well, that brings us back to Patrick's mission.

He wanted to convert the masses to Christianity, and while trying to explain the omnipresence of God, picked up a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.

He used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the notion of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, to show how they could be separate entities yet one in the same.