Chet Notes Flowers Seasonal

Oxalis Plants and Shamrock Traditions

March 7, 2015

With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, we’ve stocked our greenhouse with a selection of Oxalis plants for your home or to send to a friends and family.

Green Oxalis Plants

Green Oxalis Plants

However, while putting out our decorations and plants, we thought we might share with you the significance and history of this plant, traditionally associated with Irish culture.

The three leaves of the Oxalis, referred to as Shamrocks, have long been associated with St. Patrick and have been a symbol of the day in his honor. In the 5th Century, St. Patrick  is said to have used these leaves to explain the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland as he brought Christianity to the region.

However, this plant’s importance pre-dates Christianity, and has been important to Irish culture since it’s early beginnings. To the ancient Druids, the number three was a sacred in the Celtic religion. It’s green color and overall shape represented rebirth and eternal life – a sign of luck that has carried over to today.

Representation of a Celtic Shamrock - a symbol of luck.

Representation of a Celtic Shamrock – a symbol of luck.

Throughout the years the Shamrock symbol had gradually turned from a religious symbol to one that represents Irish culture and heritage. The earliest forms of the Shamrock being used in this secular way were in the 18th and 19th centuries when rival militias wore the leaves and the color green to symbolize their struggle during violent political turmoil. Later, Great Britain integrated the Shamrock symbol into their Royal Coat of Arms, along side England’s rose and Scotland’s thistle.

The Shamrock can be seen at the base of this Coat of Arms, along side Roses and Thistle.

The Shamrock can be seen at the base of this Coat of Arms, along side Roses and Thistle.

Moving into the 19th and 20th Centuries, the Shamrock’s popularity exploded, appearing on the facade of buildings, street furniture, monuments, jewelry, decorative items, etc.

Today the Shamrock is an official trademarked symbol of the Irish Government, and can be found in most official emblems and logos. As a tradition, on St. Patrick’s Day each year, the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) presents a Waterford Glass container embellished with a shamrock, and filled with Oxalis to the United States President – similar to what we send to each other.

Red Oxalis Plant

Red Oxalis Plant

 

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