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Feast or Fast: When Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday Coincide

STROUDSBURG — Catholics are about to observe a combination of holidays they haven’t seen in 73 years. Both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day a...

STROUDSBURG -- Catholics are about to observe a combination of holidays they haven't seen in 73 years. Both Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day are next Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is one of the holiest days of the year for Catholics. On that day, they eat just one full meal and no meat. Some have asked if there will be an exception made this year.

Ann Marie Carney hasn't made Valentine's Day plans yet.

"Maybe my husband has something up his sleeve. I'm not sure."

Whatever happens, Ann Marie is sure of two things: her plans won't involve eating meat or tasting chocolate because Valentine's Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year.

"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," Nancy Gabana said.

It's rare that these observances fall at the same time. The last time this happened was 1945.

To mark the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, Catholics abstain from meat and eat only one full meal. Sometimes the church makes exceptions when fasting days coincide with other celebrations. However, there will be no exception for this.

"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," Gabana said.

Parishioners told us they think Valentine's Day is actually a great day to start Lent.

"It's a day where everybody celebrates love and we love Jesus and we're going to go with Him through the season, so it's a great start," Carney said.

Plus, they can enjoy a romantic night out any 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," said Gabana.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Allentown said he hasn't heard of anyone having an issue with the unusual timing.