Who was St. Patrick and why do we celebrate ‘‘Paddy’s Day’’ every year?

March 17 represents a global celebration where people around the world come together to appreciate Irish culture and the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. “St. Paddy’s Day” is a unique holiday when numerous cities are painted green and streets are lined with people in celebration.

Although the true meaning of the day is often lost and overshadowed by wearing green and drinking Guinness, for almost 400 years, Irish people have dedicated the day to commemorating their patron saint and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. A typical “Paddy’s Day” in Ireland consists of attending parades and concerts, participating in ceilis and Irish dancing, and honoring St. Patrick at religious services.

You may be surprised to hear that St. Patrick himself wasn’t Irish. He was born in Britain and brought to the Emerald Isle by Irish raiders as a slave. His involvement in the expansion of Christanity in Ireland, along with his appreciation of the Irish language and culture is why he remains such an important figure in Irish history and is commemorated each year.

The immigration of Irish people has meant that St. Patrick’s day has evolved into a worldwide event and has been adopted by many cultures. No matter where you are on March 17, you will never be far from a Paddy’s Day party or festival. In fact, some of the most spectacular events often take place in the United States. This holiday is so passionately celebrated in the U.S. due to a vast number of Americans claiming Irish heritage. Tremendous festivals in New York, Boston and Chicago are amongst the largest in the world and along with other events in the U.S., they allow those who consider themselves Irish-American to join in with the festivities and acknowledge their ancestry.

St. Patrick’s Day is especially important and sentimental to Irish people who are living away from home as it gives them an opportunity to come together with fellow Irish and enjoy the day. At West Liberty University (WLU), there are a number of Irish staff and students who are able to carry on their home traditions and celebrate together.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with other Irish people,” said Cormac McGinley, a freshman from Derry, Ireland. “It’s a really special day in Ireland and it’s great to know that I’ll be able to carry on a few traditions even while being a long way from home.”

“Usually I just like to spend time with my family and friends and enjoy the local parade,” McGinley said. “Everyone is always in good spirits and I always find myself feeling especially proud to be Irish.”

Being so far away from home is already a challenging experience, and during this time it can be even tougher for WLU’s Irish students. “It’s tough being away over St. Patrick’s day and seeing everyone celebrate together at home,” said Adam Lynch, a junior from Sligo, Ireland. “I try to still enjoy the day and the experience and I’m glad that I can be with other Irish students here at WLU. It makes it more enjoyable.”

Over the last two years, celebrations have been limited due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but as the situation begins to ease, this year’s plans look to rejuvenate one of the most eagerly anticipated days of the year. Party planners and city councils in some of Ireland’s biggest cities, including Dublin and Belfast, are ready to host true Paddy’s Day events and allow the Irish people to combine in appreciation of their culture and heritage.

Join in on the St. Patrick’s day celebrations and wear your green with pride as people from all over come together to immerse themselves in one of the worlds most influential cultures.