Every year, people from all different backgrounds go green. Not for earth day, but for St. Patrick’s day. On the 17th of March, millions globally commemorate the death of St. Patrick (385 AD-461 AD), the foremost patron saint of Ireland, and celebrate Irish culture. Parades, festivals, religious observances, and wearing green are a few of the traditional activities.

St. Patrick was born in Britain to a wealthy family. His father was a deacon, and his grandfather was a priest. He was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he spent six years working as a shepherd. He found God.

After hearing a voice he attributed to God, Patrick escaped from his master and ran 200 miles to the coast where he got on a ship and went to Britain. He became a priest and returned to Ireland. He refused gifts and wasn’t always welcomed. In fact, he was even imprisoned for a time. He ended up converting thousands of people including princes to Christianity.

According to the National Retail Federation, $4.4 billion was spent by consumers on St. Patrick’s day in 2016. It became so nationally well known because of the Irish diaspora, the departure of Irish people all over the globe. Over the years, a total of 5 million Irish immigrants came directly to the US. According to US census data from 2000, 41 million Americans are partly or fully Irish.

Initially, Irish immigrants were disliked because they were predominantly Roman Catholic, and the US was predominantly Protestant. In a way, the story of the Irish in the US mirrors the story of St. Patrick. Both went to a foreign nation where they were oppressed. Both overcame the prejudices and changed their nations for the better.