CHARLOTTE, NC — For many Americans, St. Patrick’s Day is green haze of tinted beer, corned beef and, well, debauchery, though celebrations tend to be more subdued and religious in Ireland. A non-scientific study — it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and we’re all about the fun – based on the ways Americans celebrate the March 17 holiday ranks Charlotte as the 107th-best place in the country for the wearing of the green.
Americans are expected to spend about $5.9 billion celebrating the holiday in 2018, which amounts to roughly $40 a person. If you’re going to lay out that kind of dough, you want to be in the right place. A lot of that money will be spent on beer sales, which jump by about 153 percent on St. Patrick’s Day. Guinness beer sales go up a whopping 819 percent, according to a report by the personal finance website WalletHub, which said 13 million pints of the St. Patrick’s Day staple will be imbibed.
The top three cities in WalletHub’s ranking of 2018’s Best Cities for St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations — Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia — aren’t too surprising, given each city’s long history of taking this celebration and owning it.
Chicago, of course, kisses the blarney stone better than almost anyone else. Every year since 1962, the Chicago River has been dyed green — a festival in and of itself that about 4,000 people gather to watch. It takes 45 pounds of green dye to achieve the result, which lasts for about five hours.
The criteria for the ranking included things like St. Patrick’s Day traditions, the number of Irish pubs and restaurants per capita, the cost of a night’s lodging at a three-star hotel on St. Patrick’s Day and the weather forecast. Read more about the methodology here.
These are the top 10 cities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day:
Chicago, Illinois Boston, Massachusetts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Buffalo, New York New York, New York San Francisco, California Fort Collins, Colorado Tampa, Florida Madison, Wisconsin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The earliest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States date to the 18th Century — 1737 in Massachusetts and 1762 in New York — but the mass popularity of the holiday began in the 19th Century with a wave of Irish immigrants following the potato famine, according to Karen Sonnelitter, an assistant professor of history at Siena College in Albany, New York, one of the experts WalletHub cited in its report.
"The Irish were a generally despised immigrant community then, and many scholars have concluded that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were a way to assert their cultural and political presence," she said on WalletHub’s website.
Timing also plays a role, according to Victor Luftig, an English professor and director of the Center for Liberal Arts at the University of Virginia.
"Seasonal cultures relish spring festivals, ways of shaking free of the hardships of winter, and the space between Christmas and Easter is a long one," he said.
Also he said, Easter doesn’t really license exuberant celebrations as do New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July, which split the year in half.
"So," he said, "St. Patrick’s Day makes for a useful bridge."
Here are some more fun facts from the report:
The data used to compile the report were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, INRIX, Council for Community and Economic Research, Eventbrite, Kayak.com, Walk Score, St-Patricks-Day.com, each city’s official page for its "St. Patrick’s Day Parade," Yelp and AccuWeather.
Send local news tips, photos, and press releases to email@example.com. Sign up for our free daily newsletters and Breaking News Alerts for the Charlotte Patch. Access Patch on the go with our iPhone app or our brand new app for Android phone users.
Photo via Shutterstock