For Irish parties, pints, and parades on St. Patrick’s Day 2016, Americans spent a staggering $4.4 billion in 2016, down $0.23 billion from $4.63 billion spent in 2015, and which was just slightly less than $4.77 billion shelled out in 2014 by consumers annually on the March 17th early spring festive holiday, according to three years of extensively-researched consumer behavior data compiled by the National Retail Federation, Euromonitor, Irishcentral, Guinness Beer, Nielsen, United States Census Bureau, International Business Times, and The Telegraph (U.K.).
Over the last several years, largely following consumer sentiments about the overall economy, American consumer spending on the Irish holiday generally has steadily climbed from $3.7 billion in 2007, down to $3.64 billion in 2008, falling to $3.29 billion in 2009, turning up to $3.44 billion in 2010, then sharply climbing substantially to $4.14 billion in 2011, increasing further to $4.55 billion in 2012, raising even higher to $4.72 billion in 2013, stretching up to $4.77 billion in 2014, then dropping to 4.63 billion in 2015, until finally falling to this year’s $4.4 billion.
Irish Parties, Pints, and Parades Across America
St. Patrick’s Day 2016 is big business in the United States. About 125 million Americans in 2016 (contrasting 127 million of us in 2015) spent nearly $35.37 on average on Irish celebrations, green beer, and green clothing and decorations.
By comparison, average spending among American party-goers amounted to nearly $4 more at $39.70 per person in 2015 in relation to a dime less at approximately $35.27 per person in 2014.
Nearly $250 million was spent on “plenty-a-pints” of green beer on March 17, 2015, compared to $5 million less at $245 million spent on March 17, 2014.
In fact, consumers around the world have taken down 7.5 million pints of Guinness Beer on average per day in 2016. In contrast, 5.5 million pints of Guinness Beer was consumed daily around the world in 2015.
But, on St. Patrick’s Day 2016 and 2015, consumers worldwide took down nearly twice this average daily intake, amounting to 13 million pints of Guinness Beer, including about 6.5 million Americans celebrating at Irish parties and parades, drinking Guinness green pints, altogether enough to fill 60 percent of The Empire State Building in New York City.
Remarkably, Americans spent about 56.5 percent of food and beverage purchases geared towards celebrating St. Patrick’s Day 2016.
Moreover, 82.1 percent Americans wore green on St. Patrick’s Day 2016 (this is compared to slightly higher 82.4 percent in 2015, but an even higher 84.2 percent in 2014).
Additionally, 31.3 percent of us for St. Patrick’s Day 2016 prepared an Irish dinner or perhaps dine out for one (in contrast to a huge 40.1 percent in 2015, yet somewhat comparable 34.6 percent in 2014 in relation to our 2016 level).
Many of us about 28.7 percent attended a party at a bar or eatery to celebrate some Irish luck and a pot of gold (compared to 29.2 percent in 2015, which was slightly higher than 27.4 percent in 2014).
About 22.8 percent of Americans decorated our home or workplace in Irish green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in 2016 as well as at the same percentage level in 2015 (noticeably less than 23.3 percent of us who did back in 2014).
Finally, 21.1 percent of Americans attended a private Irish party (compared to 19 percent of us who did in 2015, and somewhat higher at 19.5 percent of us who Irish partied back in 2014).
Remarkably, about 39.6 million Americans claim Irish heritage – that’s almost 7 times Ireland’s population. In other words, about 54.3 percent Americans have some degree of Irish ancestry, comprising the nation’s diverse social fabric in one small way or another (including my own ancestry). Indeed, five of the most Irish towns in America, according the latest United States Census Bureau data, are Boston, Massachusetts at 20.4 percent; Middlesex County, Massachusetts at 16.9 percent; Peabody, Massachusetts at 15.8 percent; Albany, New York at 15.6 percent; and Syracuse, New York at 15 percent.
Just as much, five of the largest Irish parades annually celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in America are: New York City with over 2 million participating; Chicago and Boston each having about a million St. Patrick’s Day marchers and parade watchers; Savannah, Georgia drawing about three-quarters of a million parade goers and participants dressed in green; and Kansas City attracting about 200,000 Irish parade enthusiasts and contributors.
Above all else, painting the Chicago River beautifully green annually for Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and Irish festivities takes about 25,000 pounds of green dye.
Historical Evolutionary Folklore of St. Patrick’s Day
The 17th Century Feast of Saint Patrick was originally a celebration of the arrival of Christianity in Ireland on March 17, known as the death of Saint Patrick (385–461 AD), the foremost patron saint of Ireland. The Feast was a communion of the Church of Ireland alongside the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church.
St Patrick’s Day has evolved nowadays into a celebration of the culture and heritage of Ireland, not only in Irish homeland, but also across the Irish diaspora around the world, most notably inside the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
Born in Roman Britain in the fourth century into a wealthy family, Saint Patrick’s father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. Saint Patrick’s Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself at the age of sixteen (whereby 1 in 161 American teens are named Patrick, according to the latest United States Census Bureau), pronounced that he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland, says Wikipedia.
After spending six years there working as a shepherd, Saint Patrick supposedly during this time “found God.” Saint Patrick declared, according to religious legend, that “God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.”
“According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. Saint Patrick then spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted ‘thousands.’ According to legend and custom, Saint Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans,” sourcing Wikipedia.
“Tradition holds that he died on March 17th and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries (since the time of Patrick’s death, believed to be around 385–461 AD), many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.”
Happy St. Patty’s Day America!
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Oliver McGeeis an aerospace, mechanical, and civil engineer, and author of seven books on Amazon. He is former United States deputy assistant secretary of transportation for technology policy (1999-2001) in the Clinton Administration, and former senior policy adviser in the Clinton White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (1997-1999).
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