The Shamrock is the ubiquitous symbol of all things Irish. Although today it is usually regarded as a simple good luck charm or a St. Patrick’s day decoration, it is one of the oldest Celtic symbols.
The shamrock is a native species of clover in Ireland. A Catholic legend holds that St. Patrick used it’s three lobes as a device for teaching the Holy trinity. To the Druids who came before, it symbolized a similar “three in one” concept- the three dominions of earth, sky, and sea, the ages of man, and the phases of the moon. In Celtic folklore, the Shamrock is a charm against evil, a belief that has carried over in the modern reliance in the four leafed clover as a good luck charm.
The lulav and etrog (literally, palm-branch and citron) in Judaism is a symbolic bundle of plants (the “four species” or Arba Minim) used to fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, an agricultural festival commemorating the Israelite’s sojourn in the desert.
The bundle contains:
- Lulav, a frond from a date palm
- Hadass, a branch of myrtle
- Aravah a willow branch
- Etrog, a citron, the fruit of a citrus similar to lemons
The bundled plants are waved ritually on all seven days of Sukkot, as prescribed in the book of Leviticus:
“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day , the fruit of the citron tree, tightly bound branches of date palms, the branch of the myrtle tree, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.”
A blessing is recited with the branches in the dominant hand (usually the right) and the fruit in the favored hand.
From an early synagogue floor