This year the lunar calendar has resulted in an early Easter on March 23, which causes St. Patrick's Day to fall on Holy Monday -- the second day of Holy Week. (March 22nd is the earliest possible date for Easter.)
Irish bishops decided in 2007 to move the feast day of St. Patrick in 2008 to be earlier, on Saturday, March 15, to avoid the conflict. They didn't want to postpone St. Patrick's Day to April 1st, because it would create a scheduling mess with the civil celebrations.
Seán Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, notes, however, that Saturday, March 15 now conflicts with the official church calendar schedule for celebration of St. Joseph. (Did the Irish bishops realize this conflict?) Cardinal O'Malley doesn't want to bump the feast of St. Patrick a day earlier because March 14 is a Friday during Lent -- which is a traditional day of fasting (although now it is observed by not eating meat).
So Cardinal O'Malley has chosen instead to strike out a different path within the Archdiocese of Boston by celebrating the liturgical Mass for St. Patrick on March 17th, i.e., on St. Patrick's Day itself. That day also happens to fall on Evacuation Day, a civil holiday here.
There we have it: this year, St. Patrick's Day will be celebrated as a religious day on St. Patrick's Day -- here in the Archdiocese of Boston, but not in Ireland or in many other dioceses that follow the Irish bishops' lead.
Fortunately, this big mess won't happen again any time soon:
This marks the first time the date has been changed since 1940. The next conflict with Holy Week is not expected until 2160.The construction mess over at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center has caused their annual Easter Egg Hunt to be moved over to the (former) St. John's Seminary land for the second straight year. But this year, it will occur a week early -- on Saturday, March 15th, the date of the entire church's St. Joseph's Day as well as the Irish bishops' St. Patrick's Day.
Next week: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Leaping by Loving the Gregorian Calendar.