Compared to other holidays, St. Patrick's Day actually isn't all about the green; in fact, it's the smallest consumer spending holiday of the year, according to the National Retail Federation. But there are still a wealth of Irish fiscal factoids to be learned, from the economics of corned beef to the net worth of the guy who created the Irish step dancing phenomenon "Riverdance" (it's a lot more than you think, trust us). So, in honor of our greenest holiday, here are 10 things you probably didn't know about St. Patrick's Day and Irish Americans in general:
$4.7 billion: How much celebrants will spend on St. Patrick’s Day this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s up slightly from 2012, when green-clad revelers spent 4.6 billion. The average person will spend an estimated $35.27 on green clothing, home décor, and refreshments.
40 pounds: The amount of eco-friendly, vegetable-based dye it takes to turn the Chicago River green, a tradition dating back to 1961. The dye itself is orange, but it turns a bright emerald hue when mixed with the water. The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union has carried out the tradition since its inception. “This spectacular transformation ranks right up there with the parting of the sea by Moses and the Pyramids of Egypt.,” says greenchicagoriver.com.
How much does it cost? There is no official answer, but based on the cost of the materials and labor, some around the blogosphere have estimated that the tradition costs about $133 per minute. The operation is privately funded, underwritten by sponsors, including the Chicago St.Patrick’s Day Parade itself and a local radio station. This year, the river will be dyed green on Saturday, March 16, at 10 a.m.
44 cents: The average retail price of one pound of green cabbage in US grocery stores, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Some 2.3 billion pounds of cabbage, were produced in the United States in 2009. Cabbage is one half of the dynamic duo that makes up corned beef and cabbage, the signature St. Patrick’s Day dish.
$4.88: The price of a 12 oz. can of Libby’s corned beef at Wal-Mart. For the homemade variety, the Food Network recommends starting with a beef brisket, which will cost you about $5.99 per pound on average, according to the USDA.
$56,363: The median income for households headed up by a person of Irish-American ancestry, according to the US Census Bureau and its 2010 American Community Survey. That’s $6,317 higher than the population at large ($50 046). Irish-American households also have a relatively low poverty rate – 6.9 percent, compared with 11,3 percent for all Americans,
70 percent: The proportion of householders of Irish ancestry who own their home. The average homeownership rate in the US is 65.4 percent.
$24 million: The money made from potted chrysanthemum sales in 2010, according to the USDA. Lime green chrysanthemums are a popular St. Patrick’s Day decoration. The chrysanthemum is also the official flower of the City of Chicago.
46,036: The population of Dublin, Calif., the most populous of 16 towns with the name “Dublin” in the US. Ireland’s Dublin has a population of about 1.3 million.
$6.63 billion: The endowment for the University of Notre Dame. It’s the 13th -largest endowment in the country, and the largest among Catholic universities in the US. The Fighting Irish college football program, worth $120 million, is the country’s third most valuable, behind the Texas Longhorns and the Michigan Wolverines, according to a December 2012 Forbes survey. The program has a $15 million yearly TV contract with NBC, which gets broadcasting rights to home games.
$650 million: The estimated net worth of Michael Flatley, world-renowned Irish step dancer and creator of the megahit “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance” step dancing shows, among others. Mr. Flatley’s creations still tour the globe, and he owns homes in Barbados, Beverly Hills, France, Ireland, and London.