St. Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá ‘le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially, but to some a derogatory term, St. Paddy’s Day is the feast day that celebrates Saint Patrick.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17. People celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green and going to Saint Patrick’s Day parades.
Irish-American immigrants brought Saint Patrick’s Day to the United States. The first civic and public celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737. The first celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1756. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated by Irish and non-Irish alike. Regardless of ethnic background, everyone wears green-colored clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched. The NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade has become the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the world, outside Ireland. In 2006 more than 150,000 marchers participated in it, including Irish bands, Irish firefighters, Irish military and Irish police groups, county associations, Irish emigrant societies, Emerald Societies, and social and Irish cultural clubs, and it was watched by close to two million spectators lining the streets.
The shamrock is most common 3-leaf clover native to the beautiful Emerald Isle. The majestic shamrock was chosen as the national symbol of Ireland because Saint Patrick used the 3 leafed clover to teach the Holy Trinity to the pagan Celts. The Celts understood the significance of the shamrock forming a triad because they believed three was a mystical number. The Trinity or Trinity Knot is the idea that God is really three-in-one: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
The word shamrock can be traced back to the Irish word seamróg or seamair óg, meaning “little clover”. The tradition of wearing a Shamrock on Saint Patrick’s Day can be traced back to the early 1700s. The Irish have long considered shamrocks as good-luck symbols and today people of many other nationalities also believe they bring good luck. In Ireland shamrocks are traditionally worn at weddings for good luck. Often tucked in a bouquet or used as filler with a boutineer.
Originally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration for all things Irish. The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1995, and the President issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year.
Sports Celebration of Irish Heritage
Population of South Bend, Ind., home to the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. About 10.4 percent of South Bend’s population claims Irish ancestry.
Percentage of the Boston metropolitan area population that claims Irish ancestry, one of the highest percentages for the top 50 metro areas by population. Boston is home of the Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
78,390 and 16,167
Population of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Moraga, Calif., home to the Gaels of Iona University and St. Mary’s College of California, respectively. During college basketball’s March Madness, you will typically see these universities compete on the court, no doubt rooted on by some of the 8.4 percent of the New Rochelle population and 15.5 percent of the Moraga population that claim Irish ancestry.
Population Distribution 34.1 million
Number of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2012. This number was more than seven times the population of Ireland itself (4.6 million). Irish was the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German.
Percentage of the population in Massachusetts that claims Irish ancestry, which is among the highest in the nation. New York has 2.5 million people claiming Irish ancestry, which is among the most of any state.
Number of people with Irish ancestry who were naturalized citizens in 2012.
39.2 years old
Median age of those who claim Irish ancestry, which is higher than U.S. residents as a whole at 37.4 years.
Irish-Americans Today 34.2%
Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, 93.4 percent of Irish-Americans in this age group had at least a high school diploma. For the nation as a whole, the corresponding rates were 29.1 percent and 86.4 percent, respectively.
Median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the $51,371 for all households. In addition, 7.4 percent of family households of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 11.8 percent for all Americans.
Percentage of employed civilian Irish-Americans 16 or older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. Additionally, 25.9 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 15.9 percent in service occupations; 9.3 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 7.7 percent in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations.
Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 63.9 percent.
Places to Spend the Day 16
Number of places in the United States that share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. The most recent population for Dublin, Calif., was 47,156.
If you’re still not into the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, then you might consider paying a visit to Emerald Isle, N.C., with 3,669 residents.
Other appropriate places in which to spend the day: the township of Irishtown, Ill., several places or townships named Clover (in South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) or one of the seven places that are named Shamrock.
The Celebration 25.9 billion
U.S. beef production in pounds in 2012. Corned beef is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish.
Value of potted florist chrysanthemum sales at wholesale in 2012 for operations with $100,000 or more sales. Lime green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The following is a list of observances typically covered by the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features series:
African-American History Month (February)
Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14)
Women’s History Month (March)
Irish-American Heritage Month (March)/
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)
Earth Day (April 22)
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
Older Americans Month (May)
Cinco de Mayo (May 5)
Hurricane Season Begins (June 1)
Father’s Day The Fourth of July (July 4)
Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act (July 26)
Back to School (August)
Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
Unmarried and Single Americans Week
Halloween (Oct. 31)
American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November)
Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
The Holiday Season (December)
Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030; fax: 301-763-3762; or e-mail: <PIO@census.gov>.