Frances Shaw

What did you do last Wednesday? This was both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. Maybe you managed somehow to combine the two; or maybe you strategically avoided one, or the other, or both.

The dates for Easter, and thus Ash Wednesday, move around quite a lot. Easter Day is on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox (simple really). It’s always between 22 March and 25 April. Ash Wednesday is six weeks and four days before Easter.

Ash Wednesday was last on Valentine’s Day in 1945; then 1934 and 1923, but the last time before that was 1877. We won’t have too long to wait for the next time in 2029.

The fact that these two Days fall on the same date is rather inconvenient, but then Lent isn’t intended to be convenient. In fact, convenience is probably the complete opposite of the spirit of the season. Lent is a season of sacrifice so that spiritual renewal can happen. The message of Valentine’s Day is, ‘I love you just as you are’. Ash Wednesday too says that God loves and accepts us as we are, but that we are also sinners, who have been offered the opportunity for forgiveness and change, a deep rooted transformation of our inner beings.

Two more Days fall on the same date this year: Easter Day is on April Fools’ Day. How about: ‘I’ll tell my kids to hunt for the eggs I didn’t hide’.

Now that would just be mean.