KANSAS CITY, Mo. – More than 80 Catholic dioceses have announced some form of dispensation to the faithful who choose to eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on a Friday during Lent, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported.
Catholics who eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day are asked to perform an additional act of charity or offer an alternative form of penance — and abstain from eating meat the next day. The last time St. Patrick’s Day and Lent fell on the same day was 2006, according to CNA.
The name “corned beef” originated before refrigeration, when meat was dry-cured in coarse “corns” of salt, according to the US Dept. of Agriculture. The salt was rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it. Brining has replaced the dry salt cure, but the name “corned beef” has stuck. Commonly used spices in corned beef are peppercorns and bay leaf, but seasonings may vary regionally.
CNA reported that each diocese has its own protocols for handling St. Patrick’s Day/Lent question, so the faithful should check with their local diocese for current information.