St. Patrick’s Day is always on March 17 and is a national holiday in Ireland. In addition to the snake myth, another one is the association with the color green. There is a St. Patrick blue, which is found in the Irish Flag and in the plume of the Irish Guards. My guess is that green is a market device influenced by the fact that Ireland is known as the Emerald Island.
Interestingly enough, the first St. Paddy's day parade occurred in the USA. The early Irish settled in Boston and held the first parade as early as 1737, followed in 1762 by the New York version mentioned in that article, which is today the world’s largest. A quarter million marchers participated in New York City today.
So how did this European inspire annual drunken bouts in every one of our 50 states (even Utah has a parade and two Irish pubs, and for Hawaii, go to the Honolulu web site)? Well, St. Patrick is not unlike St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, in that the marketplace has taken over. In the USA it is more a celebration of enjoying being Irish for a few hours, and St. Patrick is just a convenient excuse.
Since 1962 the Chicago River has been colored green on this day. It began as 100 pounds of fluorescent dye, but the Environmental Protection Agency forced the city to convert to 40 pounds of a safer concoction (the color is orange, but turns a vivid emerald in water) which is kept secret. The White House fountain last year sprayed green, President Obama’s means of honoring his second city. Not sure if this happened this year, but the President did meet today in the White House with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen. This is Google today:
A year ago the Dow Jones Industrials jumped 179 to 7396. At this writing (see box on the right at the day) the Dow is up 53 at 10,739, meaning that the DJI average has jumped 45% since the previous St. Patrick's Day. Gold is down a bit and oil is at $82/barrel. If you were lucky like me and invested in Ford last March, you would have experienced an increase of 625%. But who could have predicted the demise of GM/Chrysler and foibles of Toyota?