Valentine’s on Ash Wednesday
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, January 19, 2018
One of my high school teachers recently pointed out a distressing dilemma to me. This year, for the first time since 1945, Ash Wednesday will fall on Valentine’s Day. Now, with Valentine’s Day comes chocolate and candy. With Ash Wednesday comes Lent. And here, we reach an impasse.
Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day are simply not compatible.
Anyone who knows me may be wondering why I really care. Valentine’s Day is not a holiday that typically affects me in any real way (although my mom has proven to be a consistently great Valentine). But this collision of Valentine’s Day with a day of fasting does not only affect me. Think about any of the children in your life, in the world, for that matter. While I am far from immune to temptation, they are even less so. And while I like to think of my Catholic faith and my ability to give something up for Lent as at least reasonably established, for many of them, this will be one of the first times they will be truly attempting to understand Lent and stick with a Lenten promise. And their classrooms will be filled with chocolate, cupcakes and candy on day one. And let’s be honest, those are the go-to sacrifices for third-graders.
The way I see it, there are a few reasonable, albeit similar, solutions to this issue.
First, we could all just agree to celebrate Valentine’s Day a day early. Make it Feb. 13 this year. That way everyone gets the best of both worlds: They can celebrate Valentine’s Day and at least have 24 hours on Mardis Gras to celebrate the day and the next day still marks the somber start of the Lenten Season.
Second, we could just do away with Valentine’s Day altogether — don’t write me off yet — and simply celebrate one of the best holidays of the year: Galentine’s Day, which just so happens to fall on Feb. 13 anyway. Galentine’s Day is a great day. It tosses out the worst parts of Valentine’s Day and simply focuses on all things great about female friendship. So, by celebrating Galentine’s Day instead of Valentine’s Day, we get to walk the line of celebration and fasting. A celebration of love and friendship followed a day later by the true start of Lent, with no preoccupation about Valentine’s Day, giving those who desire to the ability to fast and start their Lenten promises on Ash Wednesday without worrying about succumbing to the increased temptations that will surely surround them. Who needs a Valentine when you have your Galentines?
Now, I realize it may seem a bit early to be talking about Valentine’s Day. But since I’m actually talking about essentially scrapping Valentine’s Day altogether here, there’s a bit of a movement to get going here — a month seems like a reasonable amount of time for a revolution.
Of course, there’s a third solution. We leave Valentine’s Day be and it just forces us all to be slightly better at whatever Lenten promise we’ve made, giving up chocolate or candy or the like. But where’s the fun in that?
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.