Conflict for Catholics? Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day

By John Krinjak


Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — It’s a diocesan dilemma the likes of which Catholics haven’t seen since 1945.

Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day this year.

Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin wrote a column in the Rhode Island Catholic newspaper, stating "Ash Wednesday belongs to God."

The Bishop says, "The themes of one day are totally incompatible with the themes of the other," with fasting and sacrifice at odds with indulgence and gift-giving.

In his column, Tobin adds, "Want to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Go for dinner the night before."

But some Catholics are questioning what’s so unholy about doing both?

"I understand the fasting and everything, but I don’t see what the issue is for Valentine’s Day to give something to someone that you love," said Kathy Idskou of Cranston. 

"The bishop is the bishop, but putting that aside, you go get the ashes. It’s Ash Wednesday. As far as the Valentine, you’d be a hypocrite if you got the ashes and didn’t give someone a Valentine," said Metro Narcisi of Cranston. 

But one couple told me they’ll postpone their romantic evening. 

"We’re going to celebrate Ash Wednesday at church, celebrate doing the Mass and then we’re going to go home like a regular day, and then we’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day another day," said Nuris Ynoa of Providence.

Others say there’s a happy medium. 

"Maybe not as many of the treats and stuff like that. Maybe a little more low key, but I don’t see why you can’t celebrate a little bit," said Heather from Cranston.

"A happy Valentine is good. It’s almost like having the blessing," said Narcisi.

In his column Bishop Tobin goes on to say that the two holidays do have a lot in common–that "Ash Wednesday is to God, what Valentine’s Day is to lovers," but he does advise folks to keep them separate.

And if you do decide to forgo your romantic plans for Wednesday and think you’re off the hook for another 73 years, think again. Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday coincide once again in 2024.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018