How many St. Patrick's Day facts do you know? Probably that it falls on March 17 and honors the Catholic saint who legendarily chased snakes from Ireland. Here are some fun St. Patrick's Day facts to surprise and amuse you.
St. Patrick's Day Origins
St. Patrick's Day began as a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century.
The first parade for the holiday occurred in New York City on March 17, 1762. It featured Irish soldiers who served in the English military.
In 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended the parade. In 1995, Congress proclaimed March to be Irish-American Heritage Month.
Irish in America
36.5 million U.S. residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2007, more than eight times the 4 million-plus population of Ireland itself. The only ancestry reported more often was German.
Massachusetts residents were twice as likely to claim Irish ancestry as the nation overall, with a rate of 24 percent compared with 12 percent.
Those with Irish heritage were more likely to have higher household income, own their own homes and earn educational degrees. Specifically:
- 32 percent of Irish Americans older than 24 held at least a bachelor's degree and 92 percent held at least a high school diploma, compared with 28 percent and 85 percent for the entire U.S.
- Households headed by an Irish-American received a median income of $56,966 in 2007 compared with $50,740 for all households.
- 72 percent of those Irish-headed homes were owned, compared with 67 percent for all households. The remainder rented.
St. Patrick's Day Celebrations
Those making corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day should find ample supplies in grocery stories. U.S. farmers produced 41.5 billion pounds of beef and 2.6 billion pounds of cabbage in 2007.
Texas produced 6.8 billion pounds of that beef, with 581 million pounds of cabbage coming from California and 580 million pounds of the vegetable originating in New York State.
Lime green chrysanthemums are often seen on lapels and on St. Patrick's Day tables. Wholesale sales of potted chrysanthemums reached $40 million in 2007, for operations with $100,000 or more in business.
There are 4 towns in the U.S. named after a shamrock, the emblem of Ireland. They are Mount Gay-Shamrock, W.Va.; Shamrock, Tex.; Shamrock Lakes, Ind., and Shamrock, Okla.
9 places are named after Dublin, the capital of Ireland. The most populous are in California and Ohio.
More whimsical Irish-themed towns include Emerald Isle, N.C., and the township of Irishtown, Ill. Townships named Clover exist in South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Minnesota is also home to Cloverleaf.
Source: the Census Bureau
For more fun facts about the holidays, see the About Working Moms calendar of holiday facts.