Celebrate St. Patrick's Day: By Finding Out the Reason for Green Color and Shamrock

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

st-patricks-day best picture

Most of us have noted the green color of St. Patrick’s Day, but, how many pause to wonder why the symbolism of green color and three leaflet shamrock?

Saint Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland,”  he died on March 17th and every year millions of Catholics in the Western countries, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland,[10] Northern Ireland,[11] Newfoundland and Labrador and Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world; especially in Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina,Australia and New Zealand.

In all the parades and other celebrations, green color is prominently displayed.  Many a buildings and even rivers become green.

Sydney Opera House on St Patricks' Day

Sydney Opera House on St Patricks’ Day

st. patrick and river

Chicago river taking on a green hue on St. Patrick’s Day

When St. Patrick was about 16, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Great Britain, and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After becoming a cleric, he returned to northern and western Ireland. In later life, he served as an ordained bishop, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had already come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

In St. Patrick’s parades as thousands if not millions immerse is a sea of green, one may wonder where does the symbolism of green color come from?

It comes from the green color of shamrock.


The Shamrock

The shamrock refers to the young sprigs of clover or trefoil. It is known as a symbol of Ireland, with St. Patrick having used it as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity, according to legend. The name shamrock is derived from Irish seamróg, which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover (seamair) meaning simply “little clover” or “young clover”.[1]

St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.[13][14] This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many triple deities, a fact that aided St Patrick in his evangelisation efforts.[15]

Voluminous books have been written on the subject of Trinity, but, in an age of sound bites and one-liners, I propose to share only one picture with my readers:


Holy Trinity, fresco by Luca Rossetti da Orta, 1738–9 (St. Gaudenzio Church at Ivrea).

So, as we enjoy St. Patrick’s Day parades and other celebrations, let us take a moment to ponder over work of St. Patrick and study Trinity.

The largest St. Patrick’s Day parade happens in New York city and is watched by millions on television.


St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.

As we ponder over symbolism of green and the three leaflets of shamrock, I have made the task of studying Trinity very easy for millions to complete in a few hours, by studying a book by a celebrated and accomplished writer, Prof. Bart Ehrman: How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee.

If you cannot spare a few hours to read this mind extending book, you would at least have a few minutes to enjoy the video below:

2 replies

  1. 2015 Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade

    Sunday, March 15th, 2015

    The 2015 Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at noon with the procession starting from Bloor and St. George (near old U of T Varsity Stadium). The Parade will continue along Bloor Street down Yonge and finishes on Queen Street at Nathan Philips Square.As the new Chairman of the St Patrick’s Parade Society,


    The annual Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk is a five kilometre run or walk (your choice!) through the heart of downtown Toronto. In 2015, the run/walk will .
    we will endeavour to work to have all 32 counties represented. As we all know Canada has graciously allowed many young Irish working visas and we will be encouraging these new Irish to participate in the parade.


    St Patrick’s Day Parade SocietyDirections
    Entertainment Bureaus
    Address: 717 Runnymede Road, Toronto, ON M6N 3V6
    Phone:(416) 487-1566

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