Analyzing #StPatricksDay Instagram Posts Across America
More than leprechauns, shamrocks, and corned beef, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day around the U.S. is steeped in history and tradition. Celebrated on March 17 every year, St. Patrick’s Day honors the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Over 34.7 million Americans have Irish ancestry (more than seven times the population of Ireland itself), making cities and states across the country prime partying locations for this annual celebration of all things green.
Of course, one more green item usually ends up on the celebration list that’s taken on a life of its own: green booze. Partygoers may typically find themselves consuming beer with a little added green dye on St. Patrick’s Day, but, in some cases, the drinks can get far more serious.
Before you make your way to the parades, restaurants, or bars hosting St. Patrick’s Day festivities this year, we’re taking a closer look at which cities and states really take the luck of the Irish to heart. We studied over 690,000 Instagram posts tagged with #StPatricksDay to find the most popular hot spots, busiest times of day for celebrating, and just how many of these posts relate to alcohol. Read on to see what we uncovered.
Feeling Irish Across the U.S.
According to over 126,000 Instagram posts analyzed from 2017 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, no part of the country likes to party with shamrocks and leprechauns quite like Washington, D.C.
With nearly 115 Instagram posts tagged with #StPatricksDay for every 100,000 city residents, no state in the U.S. was able to beat out the nation’s capital. You might be able to see the fountain in front of the White House colored green like it was in 2016 or enjoy the two-and-a-half-hour celebration complete with a parade that travels along Constitution Avenue and includes floats, pipe bands, and dancing. And if you decide spending the day in a restaurant or bar is more your speed, residents in Washington, D.C., can pick up free rides to help get them around town to avoid potentially dangerous driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1 in 3 traffic deaths traffic deaths across the U.S. involve drunk drivers on St. Patrick’s Day.
New York (roughly 65 posts for every 100,000 city residents), Maine (29.4), and New Hampshire (28.1) were among the most popular states for #StPatricksDay Instagram posts, while Santa Monica, California; Charleston, South Carolina; and Savannah, Georgia, topped the list for the most festive cities. With nearly 504 #StPatricksDay Instagram posts in Santa Monica for every 100,000 city residents, this oceanside city is known for getting festive with revelers clad in green costumes partaking in pub crawls over the course of two days.
Partying on St. Patrick’s Day might not be a full day event for most people, even if there are plenty of festivities to participate in. While many of the major cities known for their St. Patty’s celebrations host parades that last for hours and include thousands of people, we found the most popular time of day for #StPatricksDay Instagram posts were actually at night.
With peak posting times starting around roughly 4 p.m., the evening hours saw more social media action where people shared photos from parties and traditional St. Patrick’s Day events older than the country itself in some cases. While the Instagram activity started to die down in the later evening hours, it picked back up again around 11 p.m. for a strong Irish finish. Some of the posts may have included shots taken during daytime festivities, but they likely included one other nighttime #StPatricksDay ritual: drinking.
While green beer and Irish coffees may feel like an integral part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the consequences can be deadly for some unsuspecting drivers. In 2017, the weekend beginning St. Patrick’s Day (which also coincided with the NCAA March Madness competition) had the highest number of crashes involving impaired drivers. For many Americans, binge drinking becomes a major liability linked to the libations often associated with St. Patty’s Day.
Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women over a two-hour span. What constitutes a single drink also varies based on the alcohol being consumed. Beer has the lowest concentration of alcohol, while wine and spirits have higher alcohol content and can impede a person’s judgment or mental concentration faster.
An analysis by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows one person across the country dies every 46 minutes as a result of alcohol-related car accidents on St. Patrick’s Day.
Where to Celebrate
Across the country, no location was linked to more #StPatricksDay posts than St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
Considered the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration anywhere in the world (even beating out the festivities held in Ireland), the history of St. Patty’s Day in the Big Apple dates back to 1762 and includes a six-hour march that stops at St. Patrick’s Cathedral along the way. More than 2 million people participate in the green jubilee, which doesn’t include floats but does involve bands, bagpipes, and dancers.
Following St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the green Chicago River, Disneyland, and Casey’s Irish Pub in Los Angeles, California, also ranked among the most popular locations for Instagram posts celebrating the patron saint. Every year, over 400,000 people gather to see the Chicago River run green using 45 pounds of eco-friendly vegetable dye. The morning dyeing ceremony traditionally marks the start of the roughly three-hour St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago.
Staying Safe on St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day may be an Irish revelry at its core, but it lives on every year in cities and states across the U.S. The major celebrations in New York and Chicago aren’t just the most popular locations for #StPatricksDay Instagram posts in the U.S.; they’re among the biggest and most lavish celebrations of the Irish saint anywhere in the world. While parades, music, and dancing are often at the heart of how many Americans choose to celebrate, alcohol consumption has become a standard with the holiday, making it one of the deadliest times of year for fatal car accidents.
No matter who you are or what holiday you might be celebrating, the dangers associated with alcohol misuse and dependency are serious concerns. If you or someone you love has become addicted to alcohol, attempting to quit without professional treatment can be unpleasant and even dangerous. At Detox.net, our goal is to help you understand your detox options and guide you to finding the right resources for recovery. Regardless of which substance you might be addicted to, a detox facility can help you start living your best life again. For help getting clean and sober, visit us at Detox.net.
We scraped over 690,000 posts from Instagram containing the hashtag #StPatricksDay. We used Instagram’s API to collect these data. The scrape was performed from March 17, 2012, to March 17, 2017. In some cases, date ranges were filtered to look only at posts from St. Patrick’s Day, occurring on March 17, 2017. We used the most recent city and state population estimates from Census.gov.
We did not have a validated measure of the presence of alcohol in posts, so we created one on our own. Alcohol mentions were defined by the presence of the words “alcohol,” “booze,” “liquor,” “beer,” “wine,” “vodka,” “whiskey,” “cocktail,” “drink,” “drunk,” or “wasted” in photo captions. The data we are presenting rely on people posting on Instagram.
Fair Use Statement
Want to help spread the cheer (and caution) of St. Patrick’s Day this year? Feel free to share the results of our study for any noncommercial use. Make sure to include a link back to this page, so our contributors get credit for their work too.