.- Religions celebrations for St. Patrick's Day will come two days early in Ireland next year to avoid a conflict with Holy Week.
St. Patrick's Day is usually celebrated March 17, but Ireland's bishops have shifted the feast day, in honor of the national saint, to Saturday, March 15, reported The Associated Press.
Church authorities reportedly spent weeks debating where to move the feast day because March 17, 2008, falls on the second day of Holy Week next year.
The liturgical norms would require the feast day to be moved to the earliest available date after Easter, which would be April 1. But church officials said the Vatican approved the March 15 date in order to minimize conflict with the scheduled civic events.
While religious celebrations honoring St. Patrick are affected, religious and secular authorities stressed this would not change secular festivities. The St. Patrick's Festival Committee in Dublin confirmed that next year's parade would be March 17 as usual. In addition, Monday, March 17, will remain an official day off of work in Ireland.
This marks the first time the date has been changed since 1940. The next conflict with Holy Week is not expected until 2160.