Thinking about making Valentine’s Day reservations soon? If you are Catholic and under the age of 60 you might want to look for seafood or vegetarian fare. This year, Valentine’s Day shares the calendar with Ash Wednesday. This hasn’t happened since 1945 (…but it will happen again in 2024 and 2029). That means it is an obligatory day of fasting (one full meal plus two smaller meals that together are not larger than the full meal) and abstinence (no meat). Also, expect some non-Catholics in the restaurant to think you and your date have dirt on your heads.
Some people might inquire if there will be a dispensation here in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Here is the statement from the Bishop’s Office:
Bishop Parkes has received questions regarding whether a dispensation from the discipline of fasting and abstinence will be granted on Ash Wednesday as it coincides with Valentine’s Day. He is not inclined to grant a dispensation from this discipline for two main reasons: 1) Ash Wednesday is one of only two days on the liturgical calendar (the other being Good Friday) when fasting and abstinence are observed by Catholics and 2) for most people, Valentine’s Day is primarily a secular celebration rather than a religious observance. Members of the faithful may be encouraged to observe Valentine’s Day with greater simplicity, due to its convergence with Ash Wednesday or they may choose to celebrate the holiday on Tuesday, February 13 or even during the previous weekend (February 10‐11).