St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner and no matter what corner of the world you live in, whether in Ireland herself or somewhere abroad, St. Patty’s has become a celebration of Irish culture for the entire globe.
The celebration features, in addition to massive beer drinking, a number of visual signifiers. The color green is the most common element that associates with Ireland — perhaps because of their lush countryside. A common method of celebration is simply called, “The Wearing of the Green”.
But other than a simple color, there are other familiar symbols like the 3-leaf clover (aka the shamrock), and that token of Irish rabble-rousing, the leprechaun. These symbols have come to represent the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the nation itself. Sometimes even 99designers and designs around popular culture participate in using these images and color to convey the message of “Irish-ness”!
Irish flavored rock band “The Pogues” utilizes the color green as the main design element for their album ‘Pogue Mahone’ (l); and Irish pride/Celtic Revival group “Clannad” utilize The Green to show their connection to their native land, on their album ‘Crann Ull’. The color instantly manages to associate them with Ireland.
The 3-leaf clover
Design by Andrew6X6 for Shamrock Triple Gym
The 3-leaf clover concept originated with St. Patrick himself. The missionary used this leaf to explain some of the principle elements of the religion he was a proponent of.
In addition to signifying this legend of St. Patrick, the symbol is simply also a sign of the natural beauty, and greenery, of Ireland. In fact, the color of the holiday used to be blue (imagine that!), but was changed in the 1800s to green, due in part to the shade of this plant.
Design by GCS Collective for Lazy Lanigan’s Publick House in New Jersey; the Shamrock has also come to be highly associated with pubs and drinking.
Throughout modern history, the shamrock has become less associated with the religious uses of St. Patrick, much like the holiday, and has instead been used as simply a symbol for the nation. It has been used on 18th century military uniforms, state seals and public buildings. Today, it’s used as the logo for Aer Lingus, the Irish airline, the Irish Farmer’s Association and the Irish Football Association (whose implementation of the clover we find very appealing).
Additionally, those outside of Ireland often use the shamrock to convey their essential Irish-ness, like Celtic-punk band Flogging Molly.
Flogging Molly – The Complete Control Sessions
The legend of the leprechaun comes from Irish folklore which tells of a type of fairy that looks like a wee old man who is highly mischievous. These shoemakers were known to save all their money and hide it in a pot at the end of the rainbow. Story goes that if you found a leprechaun, and didn’t manage to lose him, he would take you to his treasure.
Design by devondad for the St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Leap 5K; better run after that leprechaun
While original imagery of these creatures showed them often wearing red, they were fitted in green along with the rest of the nation in the 18th century. The traditional design of his outfit, apparently highly specific, include seven rows of seven buttons each, shoes with buckles and breeches.
Although leprechauns are much beloved worldwide, for their elf-like appearance and their rascally behavior, they are considered to be a tourist’s fancy in their native land of Ireland. Maybe because its image has been appropriate for such globalized “lucky” products like the ever-popular cereal, Lucky Charms. This guy, fondly known as Lucky, has helped to make Lucky Charms one of General Mills’ most popular breakfast cereals.
Legend has it that leprechauns hide a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In this case the treasure is marshmallows for breakfast! Now thats lucky.
It’s a party for everyone on St. Patty’s, so put on your best greens, search for 3-leaf clovers and find a leprechaun to lead you to his gold (so you can buy more beer of course!)
Design by The Mechanic for IRA Irish Red Ale