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Spring, Shamrocks, and St. Patrick

We have almost made it through winter and to the glorious season of spring. According to the actor Robin Williams "Spring is Nature's way of saying 'Let's Party.'" But I know that I can't start partying just yet. March can still have brutally cold winds and even snow. Spring officially begins on March 20th with other noteworthy dates such as daylight savings time starts on March 12th and St. Patrick's Day is March 17th. Teachers and students can add the week of Spring Break to my list of important dates in March.

Spring is also the time when flowers start to bloom, especially tulips, daffodils and crocuses. That alone is reason for me to celebrate, flowers always make me happy. For St. Patrick's Day one year, a student brought me a shamrock plant as a gift. I transplanted it to a flower bed outside and it has been coming back every spring since. I learned that the term shamrock comes from the Irish word seamróg or seamair óg, which translates as "little clover." (Shamrocks vs. Clovers: What's the Difference? (thespruce.com)).

Shamrocks and St. Patrick's Day go together. Saint Patrick's Day is a feast day honoring the patron saint of Ireland. Irish legend says that Saint Patrick used the shamrock as an educational symbol to explain the Holy Trinity to nonbelievers as he converted the Irish to Christianity in the fourth century. (Why a Shamrock Is a Symbol of St. Patrick's Day and Ireland | Time). He taught that the three leaves of the shamrock represented the Holy Trinity. Three leaves are joined to one stalk, which represents God (I used his example in a Children's Moment in worship once).

Irish immigrants brought over the tradition of wearing a shamrock on St. Patrick's Day and celebrating the day with food and drink. This has evolved into the tradition of just wearing something green on that day and celebrating with lots of food and lots of drink. Wearing a shamrock (or later something green) meant you were "invisible" to any leprechauns that might be around who would pinch you if they saw you. Before it became habit for St. Patrick's Day to be a part of spring break, I would stick a green shamrock sticker on my kindergartners as they came thru the door. This eliminated the playful pinching of the ones who weren't wearing green, or their green wasn't showing (their underwear or socks had green on them). Very few words can make a teacher move any fast than hearing "Joe or Sally is showing everyone their underwear!"

Whether the day is cold and winter-like or warm and spring-like, I will remember that "This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). I will also remember Robin Williams words: "Spring is Nature's way of saying 'Let's party'" and also remember to wear something green.

--Tina

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