In the United States, people celebrate St. Patrick’s by holding large parade and parties with lots of eating and alcohol consumption involved. But can Catholics eat meat on St. Patricks Day?
This is a problem for Catholic believers. St. Patrick ’s Day always falls within the Lent period, when Catholics fast and spend time in self-reflection.
St. Patrick’s is anything but solemn, and it involves a lot of eating and drinking, when you should be fasting.
Some Catholics also wonder whether they should eat meat, which is banned on certain days of Lent.
St. Patrick’s And Lent
The first thing you should know is that Lent does not require daily fasting. The only days with obligatory fasting are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
In addition, Fridays during the Lenten period are days of obligatory abstinence. Catholics are required to avoid consumption of meat.
Here’s what USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) says:
“Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.”
However, the Catholic Church encourages self-imposed daily fasting even on days without obligatory fasting. This is according to the USCCB.
“For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting.”
Now, St. Patrick’s is always held on March 17th. If it occurs on any day of the week other than Friday, you are free to feast since there’s no obligatory fast. You can also eat as much meat as you’d like.
However, some Parishes encourage their members to moderate their meat and food consumption in observance of Lent. You should also consider maintaining your abstinence from the luxury you committed to abstain from during Lent (even if it’s alcohol).
But there are no hard and fast rules. Use your conscience to decide how to celebrate the day.
But what if St. Patrick’s falls on a Friday during Lent?
This is a more serious situation since Lenten Fridays are days of obligatory abstinence from meat.
There are no universal rules on what to do, but many Priests grant a special dispensation to their congregants to break their abstinence for the day without a stain on their conscience.
This happened in 2017 when St Patrick’s fell on a Friday. It’ll fall on a Friday again in 2023.
When that time comes, we recommend consulting your local priest or bishop for advice. They might give you a blessing to break your meat abstinence.
- Read also: Can Non Catholics Go To Confession?
What About Good Friday And Easter?
Unlike St. Patrick’s, Easter does not occur on a fixed date. So is it possible for St. Patrick’s Day to clash with either Good Friday or Easter?
The earliest Easter can occur is March 22, meaning the earliest Good Friday can occur is March 20. With St. Patrick’s Day always occurring on March 17, there is no chance of the celebration colliding with either of these holy days.
So you don’t need to worry about breaking your fast or abstinence on Good Friday or Easter.