For the first time since 1945, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday will fall on the same day and this means school Valentine’s parties and festivities, in our division, will see some changes. This year school Valentine’s Day activities will be held on Tuesday February 13th, 2018.
Ash Wednesday is a somber occasion that marks the beginning of the 40-day period of Lent. On this day, Christians attend services and receive ashes upon their forehead, usually with the words "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return", alternatively, the priest may speak the words, "Repent and believe in the Gospel."
The ashes serve as a powerful symbol demonstrating the wearer’s admittance of their failings and are a visible symbol of penance. As well, the ashes, along with the words spoken by the priest, remind us of our mortality, humble our hearts, and emphasize our need for Christ in our lives.
The tone set on Ash Wednesday is meant to stay with us throughout the season of Lent. Lent is a specific time built into the church year that calls us to simplify our lives. It is a time to leave behind the frivolities and distractions of our day to day lives and focus ourselves on our relationship with God. It is a time of penance and self-examination.
Consequently, the tone of Ash Wednesday and Lent does not harmonize with the festivities usually associated with Valentine’s Day; particularly how it is often celebrated in the school setting.
What does match the feel of Valentine’s Day is Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday, also referred to as Mardi Gras, or Pancake Tuesday, is often associated with celebrations and indulging in food that one will not partake in over the next 40 days. It is the complimentary nature of these two days that makes Shrove Tuesday the logical alternative day to hold Valentine’s Day celebrations.
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