Typically, for Valentine's Day, couples might get dressed up and go someplace nice to celebrate their love. This year; however, couples are also dawning black marks on their foreheads. Why are couples wearing what looks to be a black smudge on their forehead this year? Is it to show some sign of unity? Is it a new skin trend? Well, turns out, February 14th, 2024 actually doubles for two holidays!

When Holidays Collide!

It happens every year; however, it still manages to catch people off guard. It's kind of like when Day Light Savings Time ends in November, and people complain about how dark it gets quickly, and how they can't get used to it. I should know, I am one of those people. I grew up Catholic, and even now a days, I'll forget that Ash Wednesday is coming up and get caught off guard when I see people with them.

Canva, Myriams-Fotos from pixabay, sketchify
Canva, Myriams-Fotos from pixabay, sketchify

When you start seeing people walking around with ashes on their head and those around you are getting confused, feel free to send them this article to refresh them on the annual feast day. While Valentine's Day is always February 14th, Ash Wednesday varies each year. Ash Wednesday occurs 40 days before Easter. Easter's exact date varies so much because it actually depends on the moon. The holiday is set to coincide with the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

Rocky89 / ThinkStock

Valentine's Day also has its roots from the Church. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring a martyr named Valentine and through later folk traditions, it has also become a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world. Even in the Bible, the word “valentine” is used about God's love for us. Hence why Valentine's Day is used as a day to celebrate the love in our lives.

What is Ash Wednesday?

In Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, which is the six and a half week period (40 days, not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. Ash Wednesday is a solemn reminder of human mortality, and it is a mark of penance as Christians enter this repentant season. The 40-day period represents Christ's time of temptation in the wilderness, when he fasted while he was tempted by Satan. In Genesis 2:7, it says, "Ashes are equivalent to dust, and human flesh is composed of dust or clay." This sentiment is echoed as the priest or pastor anoints ones head with ashes, saying either "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return," or "Repent and believe in the Gospel."

Getty Images/iStockphoto

In the modern Catholic Church, the ashes obtained by burning the palms used on the previous Palm Sunday (a day in celebration of Jesus' triumphant return to Jerusalem) are applied in the shape of cross on a person's forehead. Ash Wednesday, in addition to the following Friday's in Lent, is an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence, where only one full meal is allowed and one cannot have meat. Fish is allowed; however, which is why you often see so many fish specials throughout March and April. Another Lenten tradition is for people to give something up for Lent, or to vow to do something in the name of charity and goodwill.

Get our free mobile app

Technically, Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, it is one of the most heavily attended non-Sunday masses of the liturgical year. So, when your friend has no idea what is going on, and thinks that a black rash on one's forehead is a new Covid symptom, send this article so they understand what is going on.

Menu Changes

As I said above, Catholics are not supposed to have meat on Ash Wednesday, or on any of the Fridays of Lent. However, fish is allowed. The idea is that Catholics are to obstain from "warm-blooded animals," and since fish is cold-blooded, they are acceptable. Some also believe that since many of Jesus's early followers were fishermen, and that Jesus coined the term "fishers of men" to his disciples to spread his news, that is why fish is still allowed.


Don't be surprised if you see more fish specials popping up in the comings weeks. You can go to McDonald's to get your Filet-O-Fish sandwich. Personally, I love the sandwich, I could have a few in one sitting. Is that healthy? Absolutely not, but when they are cooked fresh, they are delicious! Whether you celebrate Lent or you just want some good seafood, check out our lists for the best fish fries and fish tacos around below!

20 Best Fish Fry Near Poughkeepsie According to Google

Gallery Credit: Conor Walsh

The 5 Best Places to Propose in the Hudson Valley

There are more than a few beautiful places in the Hudson Valley, but where is the BEST place to propose? Start with these five options.

Gallery Credit: Google