February 7, 2018

The Ash Wednesday on Valentine's Day problem.

Today is not Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is next week, on February 14th, Valentine's Day. Both days on the same day hasn't happened since 1945. Does this have any significance to you? Let me do a quick poll to see where we are in the discussion I want to begin:

Where are you vis a vis the Ash Wednesday on Valentine's Day problem:
 
pollcode.com free polls

Reading a few news articles, I see that practicing Catholics are supposed to fast on Ash Wednesday. I believe going out to dinner is the traditional way to observe Valentine's Day, so those 2 traditions are in stark conflict. One could easily move the restaurant dinner to another day, fast, and do something else romantic for Valentine's Day. In fact, you'd probably be better off generally on Valentine's Day by doing something other than going out to a restaurant, and the challenge to be a little creative romantically might do you some good.

Oh, but wait. I'm not Catholic. It's just sinking in for me that "fast" means don't eat meat (and eat only one "full meal"). I think! So you can do the usual restaurant meal. Just be careful what you order. But there are so many days when we skip meat. The challenging conflict here is the contrasting tone of the 2 days. Here, one woman is quoted:
"Ash Wednesday reminds us of what we're born out of. We were born out of dust and we will return to dust when we go back to our heavenly father.... I think it's difficult for some people, but for me, I think all the Lord's sufferings that He did for us, that it's just a minor sacrifice that we could do for Him to fast for that day.... I told my husband we're going to do Valentine's Day on the 13th and have our chocolate then because I love chocolate."
Some Catholics are looking at whether there will be "a dispensation.":
Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, told Catholics in his diocese... “A dispensation will not be given,” he wrote, stressing that this decision was “out of respect for the importance of Ash Wednesday in the lives of so many – including our non-Catholic brethren – and the way this custom underlines the importance of the Lenten season at its outset.”...

The Archdiocese of Chicago... suggested celebrating Valentine’s Day on Mardi Gras: “A traditionally festive time before beginning our Lenten observance.”

“Catholics throughout the world recognize Ash Wednesday as the solemn beginning of a period of prayerful reflection and penance, as is evident by the large number of churchgoers on this day,” the archdiocese said, stressing that the day’s “obligation of fast and abstinence must naturally be the priority in the Catholic community.”
Aside from fasting and the solemn mood of Ash Wednesday, there is the ritual of receiving ashes. It's hard for me to picture someone taking Ash Wednesday seriously enough to receive ashes and then attempting to make something of Valentine's Day, but maybe I'm misunderstanding how people think and feel about the ashes. Perhaps you think you've done that ritual and you're good to go, as long as you don't violate any of the other rules (like eating meat). But I would think you're supposed to get into the mood symbolized by the ashes and carry it through the day and, to a lesser degree, through the entire season of Lent.

This post was inspired by the thought, on waking up this morning: I need to stay away from Facebook. Does Lent begin today? I could give up Facebook for Lent. 

88 comments:

rhhardin said...

Miss Valentine's day and you won't get laid.

Ashes you can do anytime.

rhhardin said...

This could screw up the rhythm method.

exhelodrvr1 said...

It's a question of priorities.

Quayle said...

Reminds me of one of the best episodes ever, of 30 Rock. Jack and his new girlfriend played by Salma Hayek, on St. Valentine’s Day.

“Jack, don’t tell me you’re one of those convenience Catholics that only goes to church on Sundays.”

Then later.

Let us pray. “Our Jonathan, who art in the office, how would be our reservation....”

n said...

And Easter Sunday falls on April Fool’s Day.

Paddy O said...

St Patrick gets a special dispensation for Lent. So should Valentine.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Yep! "April Fool's!! He's not dead!!"

Wilbur said...

I was raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic home. The changes wrought by Vatican II (at age 11) weakened my belief in the intellectual edifice of the Church, and by age 14 I was a complete agnostic and have remained so for 50 years.

I still respect those who believe in its teachings. If you are a Catholic and do not choose Ash Wednesday over Valentine's Day (if there is a conflict at all), you better examine your belief system.

stlcdr said...

Is one of those first world problems that should be relegated to a 16 second segment on some daytime chat show “in lighter news...”

Having diarrhea and throwing up at the same time is a bigger issue.

And it’s not necessary to discuss either. Those who observe religious traditions will solve their own ‘problems’ of conflict, and they do so very well.

DKWalser said...

This reminds me of something that happened when my wife and I were shopping for wedding rings. The couple before us at the jewelry store had come to pick up their rings. The clerk could not find them, so he called the store's supplier in NYC. The clerk wanted the customers to know that it wasn't the store's fault the rings hadn't arrived when promised, so he spoke loudly, allowing us to hear his side of the conversation: "You promised to have the rings shipped here within five business days. By my count, they should have arrived yesterday. Why aren't they here?! ... Good Friday? What's Good Friday? We don't celebrate Jewish holidays here!" With which he hung up the phone and told his customers the rings would be in the next day.

Obviously, there are some aspects of our 'common culture' that aren't common to all.

Unknown said...

It's "Saint" Valentine's Day.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The Archdiocese of Chicago... suggested celebrating Valentine’s Day on Mardi Gras...

Well, given the way that Chicago has celebrated Valentine's Day in the past, maybe they should just skip it.

Ann Althouse said...

"St Patrick gets a special dispensation for Lent. So should Valentine."

I'm reading that the Catholic authorities reject that comparison. Ash Wednesday is too important, not just another day in Lent. St. Patrick's is never Ash Wednesday.

Maybe we should be talking about how we've lost the true meaning of Saint Valentine's Day. The day has become self-focused and materialistic.

I would suggest that the best way to deal with the coincidence of the 2 days is to think of the connection between the meaning of Ash Wednesday and what Saint Valentine really stood for.

From the Wikipedia article on the saint:

"English 18th-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine's identity, suggested that Valentine's Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia (mid-February in Rome). This idea has lately been dismissed by other researchers, such as Professor Jack B. Oruch of the University of Kansas, Henry Ansgar Kelly of the University of California, Los Angeles and Associate Professor Michael Matthew Kaylor of the Masaryk University. Many of the current legends that characterize Saint Valentine were invented in the 14th century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love. Oruch charges that the traditions associated with "Valentine's Day", documented in Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules and set in the fictional context of an old tradition, did not exist before Chaucer. He argues that the speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler's Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars. In the French 14th-century manuscript illumination from a Vies des Saints (illustration above), Saint Valentine, bishop of Terni, oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni; there is no suggestion here that the bishop was a patron of lovers. During the Middle Ages, it was believed that birds paired in mid-February. This was then associated with the romance of Valentine. Although these legends differ, Valentine’s Day is widely recognized as a day for romance and devotion."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Valentine

Maybe it's an occasion to think more deeply about the profundity of romantic love.

Barry Dauphin said...

This year February 13 is Mardi Gras.

Sally327 said...

Valentine's Day was originally intended to recognize the martyrdom of a Catholic saint, plus I think it's a feast day for some other Christian religions as well, so celebrating it on the same day as Ash Wednesday must be what God would want. We who know His Mind so declare.

Ann Althouse said...

"Lupercalia was a very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral annual festival,[2] observed in the city of Rome on February 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia subsumed Februa, an earlier-origin spring cleansing ritual held on the same date, which gives the month of February (Februarius) its name."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupercalia

Bad Lieutenant said...

Something important happened on February 14:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cape_St_Vincent_(1797)

I'm a proud American to my bones, but: the Royal Navy for ever!

Mark said...

Instead of seeing them in conflict or even separate, Valentine's Day and the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday should been viewed together. That is, people should take this opportunity to reflect upon the journey of romantic love, especially married love, in the light of the Lenten journey from the desert to the Passion and Cross and then to the Resurrection. The latter informs the former for the better.

rhhardin said...

The day has become self-focused and materialistic.

Rituals come and go. They're literary effects that no longer work.

MadisonMan said...

From the article: We were born out of dust and we will return to dust

It's always occurred to me that this tenet exists because Christianity arose in a Desert region. What if Christianity had arisen on, say, the windward side of the Hawai'ian islands, where it's raining all the time, and dust doesn't happen?

I'm not big on celebrating V-Day, nor am I a strictly adherent Catholic. So this conflation of days means little to me. I might go to Mass, I might not, but I'm usually at work before Mass occurs. My wife works Valentine's Day night.

rhhardin said...

Adamah, clay.

66 said...

Lent is a season of penance in which we unite our suffering to the Lord’s passion. Ash Wednesday begins this season with fasting (one meal) abstinence (no meat) and the symbolism of ashes. I believe it is also appropriate to commemorate St. Valentine on Wednesday, as long as it is done in a way that is appropriate to the Lenten season.

rwnutjob said...

Dinner out on Valentine's Day is for chumps

rhhardin said...

It's prescriptive Valentine's day vs descriptive Valentine's day.

rhhardin said...

It's the big tent lent.

Mark said...

What if Christianity had arisen on, say, the windward side of the Hawai'ian islands, where it's raining all the time, and dust doesn't happen?

I'm sure the residents of Kalaupapa on Molokai were able to appreciate it all, particularly when Father Damien arrived.

Karen of Texas said...

"I could give up Facebook for Lent."

I think the general idea is to give up something you enjoy - thus you are sacrificing.

Since I have a love/hate relationship with facebook, if I were to give it up I'm not sure it would be a sacrifice lol. It's entirely possible, though, that I might feel compelled to spend all day on Lenten Sundays trying frantically to 'catch-up'.

Giving up the Althouse blog? Now that would be a sacrifice.



MadisonMan said...

I recall visiting the son once, when he was away at College, and the schedule happened that we were there on Valentine's Day -- so we took him out to eat, because College boys are hungry.

That was interesting. Restaurant Dining on 14 February is not for the faint of heart, or for the impatient.

Michael K said...

I was raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic home. The changes wrought by Vatican II (at age 11) weakened my belief in the intellectual edifice of the Church, and by age 14 I was a complete agnostic and have remained so for 50 years.

I pretty much agree although I was about 20 when I became agnostic.

I was sort of a covert Catholic until this Pope, however. I still want to know what happened with Benedict.

Maybe I have read too many Malachi Martin novels. All of them , to be exact.

Michael K said...

""I could give up Facebook for Lent."

I know a lot of people who have quit permanently and most for their own mental health as they consider it depressing.

Facebook is aware as they keep telling me how great I am for staying, although they don't put it that way.

I stay for family contacts and have blocked several hundred people.

Random Thought said...

I sometimes go to daily mass with spouse. (We like that it is sparsely attended -- easier to concentrate without the crowds.) I find that holding hands in prayer, kissing at the sign of peace, praying for what the other needs and generally contemplating selfless love and service while sitting beside each other is like having spiritual sex. Perfect way to celebrate a day artificially dedicated to love.

Ash Wednesday overlays a sense of humility and a desire to seek forgiveness, perspectives that are also conducive to healthy, loving relationships. So really the two days aren't much in conflict. Besides, it's not like the fasting/abstinence rule refers to sex.

tcrosse said...

"I could give up Facebook for Lent."

I gave it up long ago. The true sacrifice would be to return to it.

Charlotte Allen said...

I'm a Catholic, and solving the Ash Wednesday/Valentine's Day conundrum seems easy to me: Have the big romantic dinner on Fat Tuesday, which is the traditional day anyway for treating yourself to a last feast before Lent begins. To mark Valentine's Day proper, save that lacy valentine or bunch of flowers for your sweetie for that day. I commend the bishops for not giving "dispensations" to allow Catholics to stuff themselves on the second most solemn day (after Good Friday)in the Catholic liturgical year. Remember that St. Valentine (there are actually two of them, in different centuries) was a martyr (hence all the Valentine's Day red), and if he could lay down his life for his faith, the rest of us Catholics can alter our schedules a little bit. We can comfort ourselves with the thought that Ash Wednesday probably won't be falling on Valentine's Day for another 73 years.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

The Catholic church across the street from us when we lived in Oakland did the daubing with ashes for Ash Wednesday, but they didn't say "Dust thou art"; they said (no, really) "You can make a difference!"

It's stuff like this that made me an RCIA dropout rather than a Catholic convert. Now that I'm no longer in CA, maybe I'll give it another try.

Charlotte Allen said...

To Madison Man:

Jerusalem, where Christianity was actually born, isn't a desert. Neither is Galilee. And I'll bet that even in Hawaii people have to dust their homes every now and then.

Jake said...

“Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.”

From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Looks like if you have a piece of fruit for breakfast and lunch respectively you can probably enjoy a nice salmon dinner for Valentine’s Day with your special Valentine. Just no sex after. Meh.

sean said...

My wife and I had our first date on Ash Wednesday (26 years ago), so it's kind of sweet to have that anniversary also be Valentine's Day this year.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The perfect Valentine’s Day excuse, for men. Makes one want to be Catholic, for the day.

CStanley said...

The Catholic church across the street from us when we lived in Oakland did the daubing with ashes for Ash Wednesday, but they didn't say "Dust thou art"; they said (no, really) "You can make a difference!"

Oh my!

My parish (NW Atlanta suburbs) is very conservative, so I often forget how bad the American Catholic Church has become.

traditionalguy said...

I have searched and searched the scriptures, and Lent is still non-existent. When did some Pope invent that absurd public ritual between selling indulgences and inventing purgatory to keep the gold flowing in to pay for their secret parties while the starving peasants actually believed in the priests pretence to own a sacramental monopoly.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

I observe the rituals of both, but I don’t really care about either. At least, not to the point where I feel that one interferes with the other. How could they? This is kind of weird post, Althouse. Something a pre-Vatican II, devout Catholic, Midwest housewife would have worried about. And even her, not much.

Ralph L said...

It's a sign of maturity when you celebrate/observe important days when you want to or can. Or you're just getting slack.

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

Easy. Observe Ash Wednesday on Ash Wednesday. Celebrate Valentine's Day over the weekend, which is what we normally do anyway for birthdays that fall during the week. I don't particularly like to celebrate during the work week, especially not during the winter when the weather is crappy. Valentine's Day is a movable holiday as far as I'm concerned; Ash Wednesday is not.

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...
The Catholic church across the street from us when we lived in Oakland did the daubing with ashes for Ash Wednesday, but they didn't say "Dust thou art"; they said (no, really) "You can make a difference!"

It's stuff like this that made me an RCIA dropout rather than a Catholic convert"

I can't blame you at all. Find a liturgically conservative parish, if you can. Sometimes it's fairly easy to tell from the parish website.

Katherine said...

I agree with all the above observant (liturgical) Christians who will make Ash Wednesday the priority.

In addition, Valentine's Day has morphed from a small gift of candy or flowers into a huge Hallmark-cards-inspired fake holiday. The same thing has happened to Halloween. It would be nice to see Feb. 14th toned down to a more restrained event.

rehajm said...

You observe Valentine's Day early. You don't have to suffer the restaurant's crappy prix fixe, you still can have the hot sex, and you can properly observe the beginning of Lent.

CR said...

If you do give up FB for Lent, it's best not to announce it. Jesus emphasized the need for spiritual practices to be done in secret. (Matthew 6.1-18) It is often striking how people will publicly announce their Lenten practices ahead of time.

William said...

Everyone likes to get some ash on Valentine's Day. The Catholic Church should treat this as a marketing opportunity. Couples could get their ashes applied in the shape of a heart. It could be easily done with a stencil. The coveted heart ash could only be administered to couples. It would help those couples to bond and sanctify their union and their union with the Church.......According to Church doctrine, you can do anything you want in bed provided the penis finishes off in the proper receptacle. Perhaps on this one special day you could have a dispensation to indulge in kinky six to completion wherever you wanted,

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
66 said...

Hey traditionalguy, the next time you are searching through Scripture, you might take a moment to thank God for the Catholic church, which organized and sanctioned the canon of books known as the Bible. As to the biblical origin of Lent, you might look in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke which talk about how after Jesus was baptized, he spent 40 days fasting in the desert in preparation for his public ministry.

Marc said...

Michelle DT, Give it another try but skip the RCIA nonsense: it's entirely legit for a priest to receive someone without requiring her or him to do RCIA (although of course you have to find a willing priest i.e. one more truly concerned about the welfare of souls than about the 'process', which in some places can be good and orthodox and in others is worse than nonsense). In Archbishop Sample's Portland archdiocese, it shouldn't be impossible at all.

I killed my Fb account a couple of weeks ago because they kept deleting posts wherein I linked to Fr John Hunwicke's blog, on account of their invidious 'community standards', they wrote. A few months ago, when the deleting began, I would complain and then they would reverse themselves ('it is not spam after all'); in January, though, I began to get a message to the effect, 'if we can bring ourselves to review this then we may get back to you'.

James Graham said...

Mae West: Come up and see me sometime.

Man: Sorry Mae I can't. It's Lent.

Mae West: Well when you get it back ...

J said...

This wouldn’t be a big deal for husband and me(we went out last week when grandma was in town), but it’s a little tricky with kids and Valentines candy with school friends. Not quite in the spirit of fasting, even if they are too young to do the one meal thing.

Lenten practice can be taking on a spiritual reading or practice, too. That’s sometimes been more fruitful for me than giving up coffee/FB/etc

Anthony said...

Valentine's Day is for dopey, moon-eyed teenagers.

wwww said...



I don't get the question. Kids can still give out Valentine's Day cards to their class and eat candy, unless they've given it up for Lent.

If you're an adult, you could go to mass in the morning and eat fish or pasta for Valentine's Day dinner if you're going out. It's not that uncommon for people to go to work with ashes on their forehead.

You don't fast like Yom Kippur on Ash Wed. It's ok for the kiddos to give out cards and eat chocolate, unless they've given up chocolate for Lent.


Darrell said...

I'll just do my usual--go around and throw ashes in the faces of Lefties.
It's rather comforting--especially these days.

wwww said...




Couple of years ago 1 friend, who hadn't been around many Catholics, told a Catholic friend on Ash Wed., "You should look in the mirror. You've got a smudge on your forehead."

Darrell said...

Remember man that you are dust, and unto dust, you shall return.

Temujin said...

I'm going to wear some ash on my forehead and tell my wife I'm giving up restaurants that offer a gluten-free menu for 40 days. Pizza, Baby!

Unknown said...

Valentine's Day is the anniversary of my first date with my husband of 25 years (it would seem that a man who will ask a recent divorcee on a first date on Valentine's Day has balls of steel; I can happily say that my husband lives up to that expectation), and we've always celebrated it on that account. Although it SHOULD not eclipse Ash Wednesday for me, this year's overlap creates some tension in my life... Our sixteen-year-old daughter, who took over making our Valentine's Day reservations when she was nine or so and figured out how to use Open Table, asked what she should do about it, so we're going to celebrate Valentine's Day on the 15th.

(I am happy about my family.)

YoungHegelian said...

Be Syncretic -- combine the two!

"Be my memento mori Valentine!"

@wwww,

Couple of years ago 1 friend, who hadn't been around many Catholics, told a Catholic friend on Ash Wed., "You should look in the mirror. You've got a smudge on your forehead."

Your friend I can easily forgive. However, a few years ago, I remember two BBC reporters commenting on why Vice-President Biden was in public with dirt on his forehead. I've never decided if they were really that stoopid or if they were pulling everyone's leg.

Anonymous said...

"... so many days when we skip meat"? Who is this "we" you refer to?

Michael in ArchDen said...

St. Valentine's day hasn't been on the Roman calendar for many years, so I don't see a conflict. As other's have said, it's a "Hallmark holiday (holy day)" stripped of any religious significance, particularly in our culture.

If my brother in Christ, traditionalguy, can't find Lent in his bible, despite the example of Christ, John the Baptist, and Moses (among others), I'm guessing he'll have a hard time finding Easter as well.

Gahrie said...

(I am happy about my family.)

I'm jealous Jamie.

(We went to high school together)

wwww said...

"why Vice-President Biden was in public with dirt on his forehead. I've never decided if they were really that stoopid or if they were pulling everyone's leg."


I bet they didn't know. My friend genuinely thought it was dirt! Honestly, we weren't offended. thought it was funny, and the person felt abashed they were so unaware.

This discussion is putting me in the mood for a good church fish fry for Friday.

I have to say, I think fish fries are yummier then shrove pancake dinners.

Ann Althouse said...

Valentine’s Day, in the last 30 years, has become a much bigger deal for adults. Personally, I have not participated, but my opinion is that it’s a woman-imposed test for men, and men, like women who do “maintenance sex,” are stepping up to meet the test, and my question is why do you want that from a mate? Not why are you meeting your loved one’s demand.

I see all these ads for bad jewelry, bad flowers, bad candy, and bad restaurants, and it all seems so misguided. Where is the higher love? And where is the really good chocolate and flowers and jewelry and food. Better than nothing is a high standard. I recommend fasting and abstinence.

YoungHegelian said...

@wwww,

I have to say, I think fish fries are yummier then shrove pancake dinners.

What I find quite funny is how, even though Catholics left the dictum of obligatory meatless Fridays behind years ago, the idea of "Fish on Fridays" has just become set in concrete in American society. Even in the evangelical Protestant Deep South, Fish on Fridays hangs around as a good excuse to fry up some catfish & hush puppies & somehow feel that you're doing God's work in the process.

Meade said...

"Where is the higher love? And where is the really good chocolate and flowers and jewelry and food."

I got your higher love chocolate cookies right here, Girlfriend.

Jeff said...

Just ask the priest drawing with ash to make a heart instead of a cross on your forehead.

Darrell said...

Lobster and shrimp, Baby!
That's the ticket.
And tip your waitress well so that she doesn't have to start whoring--in the true spirit of the day.

Howard said...

I will give up picking my belly button for lint. VD is easy, just need to get a single box of sweethearts and place them somewhere where the little lady will stumble over them.

Richard said...

“Catholics throughout the world recognize Ash Wednesday as the solemn beginning of a period of prayerful reflection and penance, as is evident by the large number of churchgoers on this day,” the archdiocese said, stressing that the day’s “obligation of fast and abstinence must naturally be the priority in the Catholic community.”

Would it be okay if they went out for
Chinese food.

Michael K said...

Why I am no longer an active Catholic.

“Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese,” a senior Vatican official has said.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as “extraordinary”, saying: “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs”. Instead, there is a “positive national conscience”.

The bishop told the Spanish-language edition of Vatican Insider that in China “the economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States, something Americans themselves would say.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo said that China was implementing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ better than many other countries and praised it for defending Paris Climate Accord. “In that, it is assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned”, he added.


Is anything else necessary to show how this Pope has lots his way ?

Michael K said...

Lost his way.

YoungHegelian said...

@Michael K,

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as “extraordinary”, saying: “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs”. Instead, there is a “positive national conscience”.

My guess is that all this China-gushing is related to this piece of Vatican stupidity, involving bishops in the Chinese state church, which may or may not have papal approval:

Story One.

Story Two.

And maybe it was done without the Pope's permission (those gol-durned bureacrats!):

Story Three.

Marc said...

Looking around, so far as I can tell St Valentine would have been commemorated with his own collect etc even on Ash Wednesday until ca 1955, in the Roman Rite. After 1960, Ash Wednesday takes precedence altogether (so there is no mention at all of St V. in the Office or at Mass on the 14th)-- as I understand it, this would be still the practice in most places where the Old Rite is celebrated.

When I was a child in public school grade 2 or perhaps grade 3 I distinctly remember exchanging St Valentine's Day cards. But in those far off days Good Friday was a public holiday with Easter Vacation (not 'Spring Break') following.

wwww said...

even though Catholics left the dictum of obligatory meatless Fridays behind years ago, the idea of "Fish on Fridays" has just become set in concrete in American society.


Well, it seems to be a tradition in some areas of the country, but not heard of in others. It's hard to find a Friday fish fry some places, but it's easy in many places of the Midwest, like Wisconsin or Ohio.

I can't speak to theological correctness. Somehow a bunch of my relatives decided that it was no meat on all Weds AND Fridays. This went on for quite a while, until someone married into the family and started arguing about it. Other people in the family had a tendency to argue their local town Saint in Italy was more important then St. Peter.

I don't know if they did this to drive their wives crazy, or if they really believed it. They were still arguing over this when 90 years old, although smiling during the argument. In any case, I cannot argue my family is a model for theological correctness. :)

wwww said...

And where is the really good chocolate and flowers and jewelry and food. Better than nothing is a high standard. I recommend fasting and abstinence.


I don't think we need to go full Yom Kippur on it. I see Valentine's Day as more of a kid's holiday, and one that is best not to take too seriously. We have thrown parties on Valentine's Day, but always sort of as a joke and as a reason to serve wine and dessert.

We have used it as a good excuse for a date, or a nice dinner. We never take it too seriously. The day is all about the commercialism in the US, and no one should buy flowers or chocolate on demand.

There are people who take it too seriously. I don't understand that -- it's such a commercial holiday to begin with.

Some people do use it as a test. About ten years ago was walking near a University campus on Valentine's Day with a friend. Lots of college aged kids. We passed this young man, who looked to be about 19 or 20 years old in tears. Crying like his heart was breaking. I've rarely seen a grown man cry like that. We decided he must have just experienced a bad break-up.

Poor kid.


Darrell said...


Just to be clear, there is no dilemma for Roman Catholics. The fasting allows you one meal per day. And there are a lot of non-meat choices on a restaurant menu. You can even have dessert. Just don't do that too long after the main course. And six years from now, you'll encounter the same convergence again.

YoungHegelian said...

@Darrell,

And there are a lot of non-meat choices on a restaurant menu.

And, hells-bells, if one wants to engage in a bit of Jesuistical casuistry, you & your best girl can sit down to a dinner of lobster Thermidor with a fine Sauvignon blanc & still be within the letter, if not quite the spirit, of the law.

Unknown said...

It's Oregon statehood day, for those in the know.

Renee said...

The kids just celebrate Valentine's Day on Tuesday, which is also MardiGras. Most people have no clue who Saint Valentine was. Yes, it was a real Saint.

Char Char Binks said...

The Friday fish fry is among the biggest Catholic hypocrisies there are. Eating fish on Friday, whether during Lent or not, is supposed to be a FAST, a deprivation, an austere, ascetic PENANCE. It has turned into a banquet, a feast, a day of piggery, only with fish instead of the usual beef or pork gluttony of the other 6 days of the week.

Even priests are part of it. I saw a TV news story about a priest being praised for having the most delicious fish fry. It's not supposed to be delicious! It's supposed to be a hunk of dried fish, a crust of bread, and a glass of water, something to keep you alive until the next day, something to eat while you think about God, the poor, your sins, and how to be a better Xtian.

I'm not even a Xtian, or religious at all, but the hypocrisy is ridiculous, and people don't even see it.

Lent is a farce anyway, especially with Catholics, but also with some Protestants. People have two weeks of carnival before, getting in all their sin and decadence while they can, culminating in the debauchery of Mardi Gras, and then they give up some little vice of their own choosing for 40 days, not counting St. Patrick's Day, and/or St. Valentine's Day, and then they go back to normal once it's all done.

Ann Althouse said...

I resisted going to Facebook. I got through the first day!

Of not-Lent.

YoungHegelian said...

@Char Char,

Eating fish on Friday, whether during Lent or not, is supposed to be a FAST, a deprivation, an austere, ascetic PENANCE.

Yeah, everybody knows that when you get rid of those silly superstitions the notion of "penance" just rockets up in popularity, 'cause there's nothin' that says "asceticism" like modern consumer culture.

Actually, gearing up for summer swimsuit season probably does involve mortifications of the flesh that would make St. Anthony blanch in horror.

Paddy O said...

"I'm reading that the Catholic authorities reject that comparison. Ash Wednesday is too important, not just another day in Lent. St. Patrick's is never Ash Wednesday."

Ash Wednesday is a made up holiday. It's symbolic, but it's symbolism should not be advanced in front of a martyr's holiday, which is what the early church honored.

Add to this, Valentine's day is the holiday oriented toward love, and love is the summation of the law. If someone chooses to fast rather than love, they're more like the pharisees. Plus, the moment they're telling us they're fasting, it's all moot anyhow. Might as well go out to celebrate.

That's me rejecting the Catholic authorities.

Char Char Binks said...

Yes, Hege, and it's not outside, secular, or anti-religious forces doing this, sinister forces in the war on Lent. It's Christians themselves, even their pastors, seemingly without any awareness.

The fast has become a feast.

ken in tx said...

Vatican II had an effect on both protestant as well as Catholic practices. Before that, very few protestant churches celebrated Ash Wed or Lent. Episcopalians only I think. Now Presbyterians and Methodists celebrate both. In addition, protestant choirs now frequently sing in Latin. I think when Catholics started abandoning their traditions, some protestants felt more free to adopt some of them without being accused of becoming papists. My current United Methodist church celebrates Mardi Gras with a pancake supper and Ash Wed with the applications of ashes to the forehead, prayer, and meditation. Valentines, as a commercial, secular event does not factor in.