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A Wednesday Dilemma

2018 is going to be a weird year for Catholics.

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This year, February 14th marks two holidays: Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. Ironically, the deliciously sweet things eaten and celebrated on Valentine’s Day are usually avoided on Ash Wednesday. Such a coincidence hasn’t happened since 1945.

Mainly Catholics and Christians attend mass on Ash Wednesday to acknowledge the beginning of Lent, a 40 day long season lasting until the week before Easter, although this can affect anyone. Fox News reports, this celebrates the number of days Jesus was in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. Lent symbolizes a time to reflect and become a better follower of Jesus.

Ashes are spread on individuals’ foreheads in the form of a cross as a way to clean the soul before fasting during Ash Wednesday. It is also a reminder that life is a precious gift given to us by God and that it will not last forever. Ashes are usually created by burning the palm crosses that were blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The holiday is recognized by fasting, carrying out extra acts of charity or by making other promises like reading the Bible or exercising more.

Being that Ash Wednesday requires giving up food or habits through fasting and Valentine’s Day involves festivities and junk food, believers should celebrate the two holidays separately to avoid conflict. A fancy Valentine’s dinner is ideally a juicy steak with a tall glass of wine, but eating any kind of meat on Ash Wednesday contradicts the traditions of Lent. There are always other ways to express love.

Romance is much more than just receiving a dozen red roses, chocolate covered strawberries and balloons. Ash Wednesday is a day to ask yourself how you can be better and improve your love for others. The fact that this holiday falls on Valentine’s Day may just be a reminder to focus, look deeper and discover how you can celebrate both without going against your beliefs.

These same followers will see a second holiday overlap April 1st. on this year’s calendar when April Fools falls on Easter Sunday.

 

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Dani Matias is a student at the University of Texas. She is working toward a Bachelor's degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish. She is an active member of Kappa Phi Gamma Sorority, Inc., NABJ and NAHJ.

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