10 St. Patrick's Day Facts That May Surprise You

Pour a pint of Guinness and get ready for some St. Patrick's Day trivia you haven't heard before.

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When it comes to St. Patrick's Day, the celebrations and traditions surrounding the holiday reach well beyond the country of Ireland. After all, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 10 percent of Americans—nearly 32.6 million—claim Irish ancestry, so it's no surprise that the holiday's festivities are as beloved here as they are overseas. Whether it's enjoying a couple of pints of Guinness, sharing a meal of corned beef and cabbage with family and friends, or just wearing something green on Mar. 17, the various cultural traditions and displays of Irish pride have produced some pretty jaw-dropping St. Patrick's Day facts and statistics. Read on for some numbers that'll truly surprise you!

$245 million: The amount of money generated by beer sales on St. Patrick's Day

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St. Patrick's Day is known for being a drinking holiday—so much so that an American Addiction Centers survey ranked it as the third booziest holiday in the U.S., following Mardi Gras and New Year's Eve. There's so much drinking on this annual party day that according to CNBC's reporting on statistics from the industry research firm IBISWorld, St. Patrick's Day brings in around $245 million in beer sales.

4.2: The average number of drinks consumed per person on St. Patrick's Day

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Just how much are people imbibing on the holiday to drive those big beer sales numbers? Well, on average, it comes down to about 4.2 drinks per person, according to statistics from the experts at WalletHub. While that may not seem as high as you might have expected, when you consider that 1.94 is the average number of drinks American adults consume on a normal day, it becomes much clearer how big of an increase in alcohol intake it really is.

13 million: The number of pints of Guinness consumed on St. Patrick's Day

a few pints of Guinness standing on the table.
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It's no surprise that most people's beverage of choice on St. Patty's is a pint—OK, several pints—of Guinness. This dark beer, which was first brewed in Dublin, Ireland, is consumed with vigor by green-clad revelers around the world—so much so, that according to WalletHub, an estimated 13 million pints are guzzled worldwide. That's a lot of Guinness in one day, if you ask us.

153 percent: The increase in spirit sales on St. Patrick's Day compared to the rest of year

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And while there's a lot of beer drinking taking place on St. Patrick's Day, that's not the only alcohol being heavily consumed. According to WalletHub, there is also a 153-percent spike in spirit sales. We're guessing it's a good day for the whiskey distillers at Jameson in particular.

70 percent: The increase in cabbage shipments during the week of St. Patrick's Day

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When thinking about Irish culture and food, it's almost impossible for cabbage not to come to mind. And it apparently comes to quite a few minds every year come mid-March—well, at least enough of them to cause cabbage shipments to experience a 70 percent increase during the week of Mar. 17, according to data analyzed by WalletHub.

80 percent: The amount of celebrators who plan to wear green

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Everyone knows to wear green on St. Patrick's Day. And while WalletHub reports that nearly 80 percent of people celebrating the holiday plan to do so, did you know that green isn't actually the color that should surround this holiday? According to Smithsonian, the earliest depictions of Saint Patrick actually show him clothed in blue garments, and when King George III created a "new order of chivalry'" for Ireland, he decorated it with a sky blue color dubbed "St. Patrick's Blue."

6: The number of hours New York's St. Patrick's Day parade lasts

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No city knows how to do a parade—or a party—quite like New York does. And that rings true with the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade through Manhattan. Lasting an epic six hours, NYC Go reports that the parade typically kicks off around 11 a.m., progressing north on Fifth Avenue from 44th Street before ending the march at 79th Street around 5 p.m. In comparison, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade only lasts about half that time.

40: The number of pounds of dye used to color the Chicago River green

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Chicago is another city known for going big on Mar. 17. How do they do it? Dye the Chicago River—which runs through the heart of the Midwest metropolis—green, of course. According to Thrillist, the river has been dyed green using an eco-friendly vegetable base on the morning of St. Patrick's Day every year since 1962. After some trial and error over the years, the Chicago Plumbers Union found out that roughly 40 pounds of dye is the magic number for ensuring the river only stays green for a day or two—100 pounds lasted an entire week.

98: The number of feet traveled in "the world's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade"

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That's right, the pared-down parade takes place in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, traveling down Bridge Street, which stretches a modest 98 feet. It started in 2004 as a way to attract more visitors to the area. Drawing a few thousand people that first year, the pint-sized parade now brings in more than 30,000 festive folks—including celebrities like Kevin Bacon and Mario Lopez.

420: The number of years Americans have been celebrating St. Patrick's Day

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It turns out, Americans have been officially marching to celebrate this Irish holiday even longer than those in Ireland. According to Irish Central, historian J. Michael Francis uncovered that the first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1601—nearly 420 years ago. The first St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland, on the other hand, wasn't held until 1903.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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