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Shamrock or Four-Leaf Clover - What's the Difference?

four leaf clover

4 Leaf Clovers or Shamrocks?


Why do people wear green on St Patrick's day and what's the difference between a Shamrock and a Lucky Clover?  The two plants are often confused, even the word "shamrock" comes from the Irish "seamrog" meaning little clover. The most obvious difference between the plants is the number of leaves; a 4-leaf clover has four leaves and a shamrock has three.

If you've ever found a lucky Four Leaf Clover you've been very lucky indeed as apparently only one can be found in every 10,000 three leaf clovers. They're considered lucky because each leaf represents something special: "Faith, Hope, Love and Luck".  

Through the centuries, both Four Leaf Clovers and Shamrocks have been powerful Celtic charms. The Celtic lucky number 3 is beautifully symbolised by the three leaf shamrock. St Patrick also illustrated 'three as one' or the Trinity through the shamrock's three leaves forming one plant.

The oldest written reference of a four-leafed clover being lucky dates back to 1620 "If a man walking in the fields finds any four-leafed grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing." (Sir John Melton)... so back out to the field you go with magnifying glass and tweezers!


BUT... why wear green on St Patrick's Day?  Your Giddy Aunt's favourite story is that it's a 17th century tradition to make you invisible to leprechauns who pinch anyone they can see. The tradition continues today in many countries with non-green wearers being playfully pinched to remind them there are still leprechauns about!


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