To eat or not to eat corned beef? It's a conflict that arises every few years for Catholics when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday during the Lenten season. Usually, Catholics are prohibited from eating meat on Fridays during Lent as an act of penitence, but this year, bishops in more than 80 dioceses are making an exception.
The dispensation recognizes the patron saint of Ireland, since corned beef is a staple of St. Patrick's Day celebrations. In lieu of the rare exception, bishops are requesting that members of their diocese select another day to abstain from eating meat or perform an additional act of charity.
The last time bishops around the country issued similar dispensations was the last two times St. Patrick's Day fell on a Friday, back in 2006 and 2000. In 2006, nearly half if the United States' 179 Roman Catholic dioceses granted some form of dispensation to honor the Saint on what's believed to be his death date, which is celebrated as his feast day.
Although corned beef is a tradition of St. Patrick's Day, it generally is not eaten in Ireland on feast day. Despite being a major producer of beef back in the 19th century, it was rarely consumed due to its high price. Instead, a majority of the Irish diet consisted of mainly dairy products, pork and cabbage.
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