St Patrick’s day appears to be a continuing source of friction this spring. Apparently the movement of St Patrick’s day to Saturday March 15 is only for Ireland, because he is their patron saint. Unfortunately, the feast of St Joesph also falls during Holy Week and must be relocated. Therefore, in the US (and probably everywhere else outside of Ireland) the feast of St Joseph, as a major feast day, will take have priority on Saturday March 15 in the Roman Catholic Church.
For Episcopalians the Lectionary web page for March tells me that St Patrick’s feast day has simply been dropped this year. St Joseph is transferred to March 31 and the Annunciation is transferred to April 1 (no feasts are celebrated the first week of Easter season either). Given that St Joseph is transferred to March 31, I don’t know why Episcopalians couldn’t have transferred St Patrick a few days earlier to March 15. This is what the Anglican Church of Ireland has done.
Perhaps the conflict matters more this because this is the first time that St Patrick’s day conflicts with Holy Week in the era of modern communications. The last time St Patrick’s day had to be moved was 1940 – no TV, much less internet. If a local bishop wanted to ignore St Patrick’s day celebrations in 1940 the worst he might get was a stray newspaper article, but it would likely fall completely under the radar screen of the wider church. The conflict with Holy Week won’t happen again until 2160! A quick scan of the BCP Easter tables suggests that it won’t conflict with the first week of the Easter season until at least after 2089, so its probably a once in a lifetime conflict.
So anyway, secular festivities appear to be going on as usually scheduled. St Louis and Atlanta are having major parades and other celebrations on Saturday March 15. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is apparently still planning its parade through the Irish Dogtown neighborhood of St Louis on March 17th (which in today’s paper Archbishop Burke apparently ‘looking into the matter’…we’ll see on that one). St Louis has a rather large and active Irish community. They erected a 16.5 foot granite Celtic Cross just three years ago. New York City is also having their St Patrick’s day parade and celebration on Monday, March 17th. Chicago is apparently having it both ways — they are dying the Chicago River green on Saturday March 15th and having their parade on Monday March 17th. I was thinking that with the reputation of the Chicago river that could be an improvement when I turned to their website (dying the river) for some interesting information. I particularly like where it says “One would ask how this is different from the rest of the year when the river is always a murky shade of green”. Apparently the miracle (that they claim other cities have failed to repeat) is that theirs is a pretty shade of Irish green. So I guess it must be a mixture of the natural green of the river (!) and whatever dye they add (which happens to be Protestant Orange!). I do find it odd that they credit the ‘miracle’ to a leprechaun rather than to St Patrick!!