I’ll be celebrating with more gusto this year because I was contacted by a distant relative who researched our Irish ancestors back to Kilkishen in County Clare near Shannon. I’ll be visiting soon.
Nearly 127 million Americans are planning to celebrate the traditional Irish holiday and will spend an average of $36.52 on green clothing, food, and more, compared to $35.78 last year, according to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $4.6 billion.
According to the survey, 29.2 percent – 37 million Americans – plan to celebrate at a bar or restaurant and 19 percent, 24 million consumers, plan to attend a private party. An additional 30 percent plan to make a special dinner to commemorate the Irish holiday.
Here are other facts and figures on St. Patrick’s Day from DealNews:
Spending rank among major holidays: 8th
St. Patrick's Day ranks number 8 in the total dollars celebrants spend, just after Halloween. The federation shows that St. Patrick's Day also is surpassed by Father's Day, the Super Bowl, Easter, and Valentine's Day.
U.S. residents who claim Irish ancestry: 33.3 million
The United States Census Bureau released this figure in January, based on 2013 numbers. If you add it up, that's more than seven times the population of Ireland, which is now almost 4.8 million. The bureau adds that Irish is the nation's second-most frequently reported European ancestry, with German the first.
Estimated beer spending: $262 Million
Last year, DealNews estimated that beer consumption on St. Patrick's Day would be more than $255 million. Since then, growth in the beer industry has jumped from 2.1 percent to 3.1 percent, according to 2015 forecasts from IbisWorld. So beer spending for the holiday, given industry expansion and the trend away from more expensive liquors, could increase to $262 million.
Age of first Irish Soda Bread recipe: At least 170 years
Bicarbonate of soda wasn’t introduced in Ireland until the 1840s – with the first versions of soda bread originating about that time. Before baking, cooks cut a cross on the top with a knife to ward off the devil and protect the household.
Size of America's ‘Largest Leprechaun Colony’: 452 square inches
Oregon Journal columnist Dick Fagan "dedicated" Mill Ends Park in Portland, Oregon, on St. Patrick's Day, 1948. He wrote about catching a leprechaun named Patrick O'Toole there, and when Fagan wished for a park of his own, the leprechaun gave him a small spot that was the intended site of a light pole that never arrived. Fagan built the legend by calling it "the world's largest leprechaun colony West of Ireland." The Guinness Book of World Records named it the World's Smallest Park in 1971.
So, happy St. Patrick's Day. I hope you can enjoy a green-colored drink, corned beef, and maybe a parade.