England and Wales Catholics can eat meat on Boxing Day

Catholics in England and Wales are allowed to eat meat on Boxing Day this year, even though it falls on a Friday, their bishops say.

In England and Wales, Catholics are usually required to abstain from meat on Fridays.

A spokesman for the bishops noted that Boxing Day, or St Stephen’s Day, falls within the octave of Christmas, which is an ongoing celebration.

He said it is “contrary to the mentality of what an octave is to consider one of its days as penitential”.

Easter and Christmas are the only two official octaves left in the Catholic Church’s year after others were discontinued in the calendar of Blessed Paul VI.

Octaves are weeks of joy, not abstinence, even though the Easter Octave ranks unambiguously higher than that of Christmas.

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