What Are the Meanings of Some Well-Known Gaelic Symbols?


Quick Answer

Two of the most recognized Gaelic symbols are the Celtic cross, reflecting the belief in Christianity, and the Celtic knot, whose unending pattern represents the cycle of life. The shamrock, another common Gaelic symbol, represents the Christian concept of the Blessed Trinity.

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Full Answer

The shamrock and the four-leaf clover are often confused. Since most clover plants have leaves with three lobes, finding one with four is rare and therefore considered lucky. The shamrock symbol has a more religious meaning. Legend tells the St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, use the botanically distinct shamrock plant to teach others the Christian concept of a god in the form of a Blessed Trinity. The Blessed Trinity is compromised the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The Celtic cross is a variation of the Christian cross. The Celtic version has a ring circling the intersection of the two straight sections. The ring symbolizes either the halo worn by Jesus, or the Roman sun god Invictus. High crosses are elaborately carved or sculpted Celtic crosses that depict scenes from the Bible, such as the Last Supper. Simpler memorial crosses are often placed at cemeteries.

The Celtic knot is widely recognized as a woven, overlapping pattern without a beginning or an end. The shape of the knot varies. Popular patterns include pictures of animals, keys, or three lobes symbolizing the Blessed Trinity or mind, body and spirit. No matter the pattern, the Celtic knot is thought to symbolize the cycle of life.

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