Being raised in San Francisco I knew that the two most important holidays were St. Patrick's Day and Columbus Day. On March 17 everyone was Irish or at least felt like they were. I remember that the newspapers (at least the Call Bulletin) would have a map of Ireland and show where all the Irish families came from.
However it was not until I graduated from college and working for a State agency in San Francisco that I found out how important St. Patrick's day really was. This agency seemed to have mostly USF graduates working there; and with names like Doud, Finnigan, McCarthy,Hanlon, etc. St.Patrick's Day I found was an unofficial "official" holiday. There was not a soul in the office during the afternoon. Everything just came to a stop for the celebrations that could be found at all of the Irish bars in the city.