What’s with all the doubling up of dates?

As if there aren’t enough days in the year.

Three hundred and sixty-five of them. At least.

But this year, the gods have conspired and the stars have aligned to ensure that some of our most noteworthy days do not stand alone, and indeed are paired with other days that clash conspicuously with each other. Whoever drew up the calendars for this year must have been having a laugh. Maybe it was determined years ago and some auld scholar in the Vatican said “let’s mess with ther heads when it comes to 2018. Let’s see what side of the coin they fall down on, when put to the test.”

Pancake Tuesday used to have a sort of innocence about it. The one time in the year when we’d get pancakes. The image of families gathered around the ring, shifting that pancake around on the pan until free of restriction, before it spins effortlessly through the air. Families whooped with delight as they sat down to eat plate after plate of something that can be added to the most wholesome or the most delicious topping. Food for everyone in the audience. Sweet or savoury.

And when you’d eat your first one you’d wonder why the hell we didn’t make these every day of the year. But after Pancake No. 3 and you’re feeling a bit crepe, you have the answer to that question.

Now in Galway, it’s sharing its day with Donegal Tuesday continuing the age-old tradition when impoverished students from the North West don their county colours and queue up since dawn to catch a pint and some pneumonia. Shivering in zero degree temperatures, their short-sleeved jerseys designed for summer days roaring on their heroes in warm Clones or Ballybofey, in February they offer little protection against the finest that the Wild Atlantic Way can offer. Yet they line up, year after year, in the same way, for the same thing.

And then Ash Wednesday being held on Valentine’s Day — the perfect collision of meanness, religious observation, romance, and austerity designed to strain any relationship. Offering any meanspirited romantics the chance to deny their partners a treat so that they comply with the restrictions of the first day of Lent. Off the fags, starving, feeling unloved, the collision of these days is a recipe for conflict.

We have a different Good Friday this year, when it will be a day that will undoubtedly become the new National Drinking Fest day, if the booze-filled trolleys of other Holy Thursdays are anything to go by. The realisation that drink is more readily available will bring solace to millions on that day. Will it become a sort of religious Arthur’s Day when everyone will go to the pub for the same reason a dog can lick himself, because they can?

Next up after that is April Fool’s Day which this year shares its time with Easter Sunday. Now while there are some who believe that any return from the dead is an April Fool’s trick beyond parallel, once again the opportunity to enjoy either of these days is halted by the fact that it shares its 24 hours with the other.

Who will eat their Easter egg without fear it has been tampered with by a fellow prankster? How many resurrection-themed pranks will this inspire? Fools on the hill?

When dates clash like this, it messes with your head. All these dates are worthy of standalone days, of being held in isolation, each requiring their own unique observation.

Bring on 2019 when we get our feast days back on their own.

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