Church celebrations of St Patrick’s Day next year will take place on 15th March as the traditional date of the 17th falls in Holy Week.

Easter Sunday next year is on March 23rd, the second earliest date it could be. The earliest date is March 22nd, as Easter Sunday – since the Council of Nicea in AD325 – always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox.

It means that Holy Week 2008 begins on March 17th, the Monday after Palm Sunday. For the first time since 1913, and the last time until 2160, St Patrick’s Day will fall in Holy Week next year.

Fr Paddy Jones of the National Centre for Liturgy at Maynooth said: “The days of Holy Week and Easter Week rank above all others” and so St Patrick’s Day (and St Joseph’s) must be transferred.

The Vatican had intended transferring the celebrations to early April, after Easter week, but at the request of the Irish bishops it agreed to the March 15th date as this would be closer to the civic celebrations of St Patrick’s Day.

As a transferred feastthe celebration of St Patrick’sDay next year on March 15th will not be a holy day of obligation.

Civic Celebrations

The 17th will remain as a bank holiday. The parade and annual St Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin will carry on as normal. Prominent parades elsewhere, such as the famous New York parade, will also be unaffected.