St. Patrick’s Day provides opportunity to honor Irish culture

WLU students at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland (2019)

March 17 is St. Patrick’s day. Every year, people all over the world celebrate the Patron saint of Ireland by wearing green and drinking too much alcohol. The US in particular makes a significant effort for St. Patrick’s Day due to the prominence of Irish heritage which has helped shape American culture.

If you ask an American what their heritage is or where their family originates from, one of the most common responses is Ireland so it’s no wonder that the holiday is celebrated so enthusiastically. In fact, a higher number of Americans identify as Irish than the total population of the country of Ireland. This cultural connection has persisted through generations with people still feeling tied to the Emerald Isle decades after their ancestors immigrated.

The Appalachian region in particular has a strong connection to their Irish roots. Irish influence can be seen in aspects of everyday life such as in music, art, cuisine, literature, religious practices, and recreation.

St. Patrick’s Day provides an opportunity to honor the impact that Irish culture has had on the US and gives people a chance to celebrate their Irish heritage. In the pre-COVID world, St. Patrick’s Day is also an opportunity for people to get together and enjoy each other’s company often sharing drinks and food marking the day as an important social event on the calendar.

Restaurants, bars, shops, and even landmarks like the Chicago River turn green to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Parades would normally flood the streets of major cities all over the US but this year, due to COVID-19, some events have been halted due to public health concerns. Although the public affairs might be slightly limited for 2021 plenty will still be flaunting their green outfits and Shamrock Shakes on March 17.

For Irish citizens currently residing in the US, St. Patrick’s day is even more special. Although exacerbating some homesickness, the celebration of all-things-Ireland undoubtedly enhances national pride and a fondness for home.

WLU is currently the home-away-from-home for four Irish citizens. “It feels strange since it’s the first time I haven’t been at home celebrating with my family and friends but to be honest people are just excited about celebrating it here so I’m still very excited,” said Mark Donnelly, a freshman from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

On March 17 this year, come out in green to celebrate St. Patrick’s day and the positive impact of Irish culture on the US.