I won’t congratulate my Irish friends today, because apparently, on the authority of the BBC, this year 17th March is not St Patrick’s Day, at least for most of those who usually celebrate it. It is all because Easter is so early this year. This means that today, 17th March, is already the first day (or is it the second day?) of Holy Week, the special week leading up to Easter. And apparently, according to both Roman Catholic and Anglican reckoning, Holy Week takes precedence over regular saints’ days, which are simply cancelled for that year. Some Eastern Orthodox believers are still officially honouring St Patrick today (although others are not), because for them it is not yet Holy Week, but not many Irish are Eastern Orthodox.
Not surprisingly the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland did not allow their patron saint’s day to go completely unmarked this year, so they celebrated in advance, on Saturday 15th. But given the rugby result that day their celebrations must have been rather muted.