The Data Analytics of St. Patrick’s Day

St Patricks Kiss Me Im Irish 2012 photo (data analytics )Tomorrow, almost half of Americans will don green shirts to avoid being pinched, seek out some

St Patricks Kiss Me Im Irish 2012 photo (data analytics )Tomorrow, almost half of Americans will don green shirts to avoid being pinched, seek out some green grub and celebrate a saint who wasn’t Irish by birth.

On an unrelated note, we think a few of these Irish-for-a-day folks will seek out iPad 3s on their way to their favorite pubs or one of the many famous St. Paddy’s day parades.

Born in Roman Britain, St. Patrick, who is considered the patron saint of Ireland, became Irish by force in the early 400s. He was sold as a slave in 403 and escaped in 409. He later returned to Ireland to spread the message of Christianity. The anniversary of his death has been celebrated by the Irish for more than 1,000 years. A traditional celebration includes a visit to church in the morning and a feast of beer, bacon and cabbage (an Irish tradition) in the afternoon.

What’s with the Shamrock?

According to Irish legend, St. Patrick used the plentiful plant to explain the holy trinity on which Christianity is founded. Four-leafed clovers, which can’t be shamrocks by botanical definitions, have been associated with luck since well before this holiday – some references say Eve was holding one when she and Adam left the Garden of Eden. Another legend says the lucky clover repels snakes, but that didn’t come from Ireland either (there are no snakes in Ireland).

Data Geek Lesson – Data quality is a must or you could end up with myths and legends like snakes in Ireland.

More American Than Irish?

The American version of this holiday is believed to have begun on March 17, 1762 when Irish soldiers who served in the British military marched through the streets of NYC “to reconnect with their Irish roots.” In 1848, several Irish Aid societies (concerned about Irish immigrant patriotism and rights as more than a million Irish immigrants came to America during the famous potato famine) joined forces to create a single St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City. Today, this parade is the world’s “oldest civilian parade and the largest in the US,” according to

Are American Irish Luckier?

Today, Americans of Irish descent make up about 11% of the population, just behind people of German ancestry, who make up more than 15% of the US population. The Irish-Americans defy the odds in luck in education, income and home ownership in comparison to the overall US population. As you can see in our infographic:

  • 70% of Irish Americans own homes
  • Just 10% lack health insurance
  • They make 22% more money
  • They are more educated  92% have at least high school diplomas and nearly a third have bachelor’s degrees or higher

Data Geek Lesson: It’s impossible to know whether Irish Americans are luckier because we aren’t starting with the right question  What is the definition of luck as it applies to this data set?

How Green is St. Patrick’s Day?

With gas going for $4 per gallon in many areas, it’s exciting to note that the green paper impact of St. Patrick’s Day is $4.55 billion (the highest in the history of the holiday). We also dove in to see what other green analytics we could find. Here’s a quick list:

  • The color green is not traditionally lucky in Ireland. The original color designated for the date was blue. However, the argument for green won out as the Americans popularized the holiday. No one knows for certain where the “wear green” tradition comes from, but a few guesses are  it’s because Ireland is called the “Emerald Isle,” the shamrock St. Patrick championed, and an urban legend that the leprechauns (or protectors of gold) would pinch you if they saw that you were not wearing the color of spring;
  • Green beer (which about 20% of Americans will seek out) is an American tradition. Until the 1970s, Irish pubs were required to close for the religious holiday;
  • Saving green is a top priority for businesses and even sports teams as we saw in the box office smash “Moneyball.” And taking an analytical approach has gone from geek to chic as we saw in this Information Management article.

Next Steps:

  • Tweet us your favorite St. Patrick’s tradition.
  • Sign up for our March 22 webcast featuring Claire Schooley, senior analyst at Forrester Research, and Dan White, product manager for Spotfire, and learn how to use analytics to spot more opportunities in HR to make people and processes more effective.
  • Check out our 5-Minute Guide to HR Analytics to learn how analytics can transform the perception of HR as a cost center to a strategic ally for business leaders.
Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team