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Nuts and Bolts: Cultural Symbols and Terminology

March 22, 2019


Nuts & Bolts – Cultural Symbols and Terminology
When creating cards for a specific holiday, profession, religion, nationality, tradition, etc., unless you are an expert, it’s important to do a little research and make sure you’re using the correct symbols, imagery and terminology.


One example that we’ve covered before is for St. Patrick’s Day.  It is commonly incorrectly referred to as St. Patty’s Day (vs St. Paddy’s Day) and incorrectly used with the imagery of a four-leaf clover (vs a shamrock).  See here in Corrections for St. Patrick’s Day.


Here is a wonderful before and after example of a card series by GCU artist Besty Bush of Dragonfire Graphics:






Thank you, Betsy for turning all those lucky four-leaf clovers into St. Patrick’s Day shamrocks!


The difference is made in the details!


GCU Community Manager


3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 22, 2019 5:16 pm

    Yes it’s true, St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to explain the holy trinity, but the three-leaf clover (shamrock) also represents love, faith and hope. The fourth leaf (if you’re lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover) represents luck since four-leaf clovers are so rare). When you’re talking about the luck of the Irish or luck in general, it should be a four-leaf clover 🍀. Either way, shouldn’t customers have a choice of whether they want a card with shamrocks or four-leaf clovers since they’re the ones buying the cards?!

    As far as St. Paddy verses St. Patty, I’ve seen it both ways from reputable card companies. With a humorous, non-religious card, either should be acceptable. 😊

  2. March 29, 2019 12:55 am

    Based on the most acceptable and commonly used for the holiday GCU has established the guideline for St. Patrick’s Day as St. Paddy’s (St. Patty’s will not be allowed) and three-leaf clover aka shamrock. The three-leaf clover is at the heart of the Irish culture and a symbol of Ireland. The four-leaf clover and its association with luck is not exclusive to Ireland or the Irish culture and can be associated with luck anywhere in the world.

    • March 29, 2019 7:35 pm

      Thanks for your response, Mindy. I’m sad and disappointed GCU is not giving customers a choice (I prefer the first card over the less aesthetically pleasing second card). If, according to your reasoning of what the Irish identify with (I’m assuming natives of Ireland), not only should 4-leaf clovers be banned for St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns, rainbows with pots of gold, green beer, drinking, partying, wearing green and eating corned beef and cabbage should also be disallowed. None of those elements are symbols of Ireland either and may even be offensive to some. The St. Paddy’s Day traditions (non-religious) as we know them today originated here in America by Irish Americans and has become popularized and commercialized only in the last few decades. My point is, GCU should offer “any card imaginable” as their tagline states and let the customer decide whether they want Saint Patrick (religious) or St. Paddy or Patty (fun cards for non-Irish and Irish Americans) or leprechauns, shamrocks or 4-leaf clovers…we’re the ones buying the cards. We should have a choice as well as our customers or they’ll go elsewhere as I have found myself doing.

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