While it was St. Patrick who drove the snakes out of Ireland, even he with his mighty staff cannot cast off the hangovers set to occur on Tuesday, March 18. Alas, St. Patty's Day falls on a Monday this year, and we can only imagine how many revelers will call in sick from work on these days.
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While "sick day" tallies elude our grasp, other numbers surrounding this mid-March holiday can be counted, and quite a few of them green. The National Retail Federation forecasts that St. Paddy's spending for 2014 should grow modestly to $4.8 billion, up slightly (about 2%) from last year. Talk about a heapin' pot o' gold.
So whether Irish green runs in your blood, or simply down your Celtic sweater in the form of spilled St. Paddy's beer, here's our rundown on the stats, spending, and trivia surrounding St. Patrick's Day.
St. Patrick's Day Spending: $35.75 per person
This NRF estimate is up about 50 cents from last year, and there's any number of ways people will spend that money — whether it's at grocery stores for corned beef or clothing stores for corny green sweaters. Of course, the Irish make some of the most beautiful wool sweaters in the world, but something about this holiday brings out the Fooligan in many a reveler.
Millennials Celebrating St. Patrick's Day: 8 out of 10
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You might think Patrick was the patron saint of those 18 to 24, as young adults in that age range will honor the holiday in the largest numbers: 77%, according to the NRF forecast. Parsing those numbers further, the NRF predicts that 90% will wear something green, though it's hard to imagine what the other 10% will don instead.
Celebrants Visiting Restaurants & Bars: More Than 30%
Among those who will mark the holiday, 30.6% plan to hit up a bar or restaurant for a St. Paddy's party, the NRF reports. Slightly more than that (32.9%) will prepare a special holiday-themed dinner, and 21.2% will decorate the home or office. Rounding out the list of plans, 20.6% will attend a private party, and it's safe to say that at a majority of those gatherings, someone (followed by everyone else) will break out into a spontaneous version of Danny Boy.
Americans of Irish Ancestry: More Than 34 Million
They say everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, and judging by the statistics, it's perhaps not so much of a stretch. According to U.S. Census figures, 34.1 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry. That's more than seven times the population of Ireland itself (4.6 million). And if you guessed Boston as America's most Irish big city, then top o' the mornin' to ya: 24.1% of its residents — or more than 1.1 million — claim Irish ancestry, with Italians a distant second at 15%.
Date of the Oldest St. Patty's Parade: 1737
Boston is also home to the oldest St. Patrick's Day Parade, which took place some 50 years before the ink had dried on the U.S. Constitution. It has attracted more than 800,000 parade-goers in years past, but that's almost half of the turnout expected at the world's largest St. Patrick's Day parade.
You might think the largest parade would be in Dublin, Ireland (and indeed, their parade is part of a week-long St. Pat's celebration). But the honor goes to NYC, which got its start in 1762 thanks to Irish soldiers in the British army. That parade attracts about 2 million attendees, and the route itself runs almost six hours, winding past St. Patrick's Cathedral, which will receive an estimated 5.5 million visitors during the holiday.
Total Beer Tab: $255 Million
When IbisWorld complied St. Paddy's beer consumption statistics in 2012, it forecast that brewers would rake in $245 million, or close to 1% of the annual take for a bar or liquor store. Since then, they've forecast annual growth for U.S. breweries at 2.1%, so it's an educated guess to say that 2014 beer sales should top $255 million. Reliable estimates on how much green beer will be quaffed are much harder to come by, but DIY tips and recipes for making the stuff are more plentiful than three-leaf clovers. Assuming that the typical St. Patrick's celebration is all about begorrah and less about bother, we hereby present one of the simplest recipes for green beer ever.
Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade: 98 Feet
The First Ever Eleventh Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parad in Hot Springs, AK. has turned into a long-running gag, even though its route is very, very short. The entire parade processional measures less than 33 yards, and runs along Bridge Street, one of the world's shortest streets. But it's long on fun, as the Grand Marshal this year is Jim Belushi, and Mountain Man from "Duck Dynasty" is the official parade starter. What's more, last year's fete attracted 30,000 people, which averages out to about 306 people per foot.
It's true: St. Patrick's Day brings out the Irish in just about everyone. But it also honors a Catholic saint who, even though he wasn't Irish himself, made huge cultural and religious contributions to the Emerald Isle. March 17 actually marks the date of Patrick's passing in 461 A.D. So raise a glass, break the soda bread, wear the green, and join the parade.
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