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What happens when Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine's Day? 3 recommendations

Conflicted about whether you will celebrate Valentine's Day or Ash Wednesday come February 14, 2024? Read on to find some recommendations, including what most priests advise.

A religious man praying solemnly [Image Credit: Mart Production]

Like in 2018 and 1945, Valentine's Day 2024 happens to fall on the same day as the beginning of Lent, popularly referred to as Ash Wednesday.

For Roman Catholic faithfuls, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists and Lutherans who observe the Lenten season, it presents a challenge over whether to mark Valentine's or the holy day.

While Valentine's Day isn't an official holiday, it is globally recognised and celebrated by many people through the exchange of gifts like flowers and chocolates and spending quality time with their significant others.


In contrast, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of 40 days of fasting, penitence and abstinence in the run-up to Good Friday. Believers are encouraged to take a break from festivities and observe a solemn period of contemplation and repentance.

The observance also includes cutting off most meats from the diet as believers ponder the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness and faced temptations from the Devil.

By consensus, priests advise faithfuls to forgo Valentine's and to give prominence to Ash Wednesday. This means attending mass to have the ashes applied to their forehead and spending most of the day in prayer and fasting.


In substitute, here are more recommendations on how to go about this rare occurrence:-

  1. Postpone Valentine's Day: Given the diet restrictions and significance of Ash Wednesday, you can opt to celebrate the one you love on February 13th or some other day post-February 14th without having to compromise Ash Wednesday.
  2. Altogether ignore Valentine's Day: It is also an option to skip Valentine's this year. Since the coincidence is quite rare, it wouldn't hurt to give prominence to Ash Wednesday instead.
  3. Let Valentine's Day take on a new meaning: February 14 is often also commemorated as the day Saint Valentine - the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers - died as a martyr. His death and that of Christ are hailed as the ultimate act of love. Valentine's this year can be dedicated to being grateful for the gift of divine love.


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