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Going cold turkey

The Roman Catholic Church has allayed fears that eating Christmas dinner leftovers on Boxing Day could be un-Christian. The news will come as a relief to those Catholics who feared it conflicted with the custom of eating fish on Fridays, which was revived as an act of penance by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales three years ago. (This year is the first time that either Boxing Day, or Christmas itself, has fallen on a Friday since the decision.) Back then Cardinal Nichols said that 'Not eating meat on a Friday is a gesture, a reminder of something that tells us every week we have a very particular take on life. The gift of faith. It's something we treasure.'

To set the record straight the Church's Liturgy and Worship Department has issued a detailed explanation of how St Stephen's Day falls within one of the two major eight-day periods of celebration - or octaves - in the ecclesiastical year, which take precedence over other observations such as penance.

'To consider St Stephen's Day or Boxing Day as a day of abstinence, goes against common sense. It is a special day when, uppermost in our hearts and contextual of our celebrations is that instinctive sense of wonder at the Incarnation of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, the meaning of the love, joy and peace we all crave at Christmas.' Pigs-in-blankets all round.