Offbeat Fasting or champagne? Valentine's Day, Ash Wednesday in rare confluence

20:07  12 february  2018
20:07  12 february  2018 Source:   Reuters

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With Ash Wednesday and Valentine ’ s Day falling on the same day this year, leaders in the Mercer area’s Roman Catholic Church are offering some guidance: Solemnly mark the start of Lent, a day the faithful are asked to abstain from meat and to fast , on Wednesday .

Valentine ’ s Day , named after St. Valentine , a third-century martyr, is all about romance with its emphasis on cards, candy, flowers and nice dinners, where Ash Wednesday takes a more somber tone as the start of 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving of Lent.

a group of people in front of a building: FILE PHOTO: People sell balloons for Valentine's Day in Los Angeles© REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo FILE PHOTO: People sell balloons for Valentine's Day in Los Angeles Chocolates and champagne or ashes and fasting?

That's the question many Christians will face on Wednesday, when Valentine's Day and the Ash Wednesday holiday marking the start of Lent fall on the same day for the first time since World War Two.

"Can't wait for Wednesday. I'm going to tell everyone: 'You are loved and you are going to die,'" Christopher James, a professor at the Presbyterian University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, said on Twitter.

Christian denominations call on their members to make various sacrifices during the 40-day Lenten season that leads up to Easter Sunday, including fasting from food, reflecting and carrying out extra acts of charity.

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- Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent (which lasts a total of 40 days , excluding Sunday). Many people fast on certain days , and many people avoid meat on Fridays, the day Jesus died upon the cross. So yeah. That's the gist. I'm sure you can see the problem now. Valentine ' s Day and Ash

I lean toward melancholy so I love Russian authors, cloudy days , a good drizzle, and Ash Wednesday . We don’t know that much about Saint Valentine other than he was probably beaten and beheaded around 269 in Rome, but somehow that got twisted into a day of romance.

a close up of a hand: FILE PHOTO: A woman receives ashes at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on Ash Wednesday in New York© REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo FILE PHOTO: A woman receives ashes at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on Ash Wednesday in New York Heavily Irish-American Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States often make an exception when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Lenten Friday, allowing for the traditional corned beef and cabbage on a day when church members would normally be asked to avoid meat.

But church leaders around the country said no such exception would be forthcoming when Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day overlap for the first time since 1945.

"Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two days of the whole year on which fasting and abstinence are required," Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, told church members in a video posted online Friday. "Those who are accustomed to celebrating Valentine's Day might do so the day before. Join it up with Mardis Gras."

Christians will face a similar holiday overlap again in a few weeks' time, when April Fool's Day and Easter both fall on April 1.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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