Ash Wednesday observed in Garo Hills

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Today, Valentine's Day is not so much focused upon Valentine as it is on the concept of love.

This marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent.

Cupid's arrows will share a day with ashy crosses this week as Christians across the nation find a way to commingle Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday. If you're Catholic, this means you must abstain from meat, as well as fast, which boils down to eating only one full meal or two smaller meals. We digress. Those 40 days begin on February 14, a day in the Christian church known as Ash Wednesday. This odd connection causes some problems for Roman Catholics and other Christians who celebrate Lent as a fast in the lead-up to Easter, but it also provides an incentive for holiday mash-up phrases.

Valentine's Day was a Saint who was martyred for arranging marriages for the people who were not allowed to marry under the rule of Roman Empire which persecuted Christians.

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Yes, Ash Wednesday this year falls on the same day as Valentine's Day.

He views Ash Wednesday as "an opportunity for me to reflect on the both fragility and beauty of life".

Catholics aged 18 to 60 are obliged to fast or to eat less on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday which is March 30 this year.

Christians around the world observe Lent through prayer, fasting and reflection.

Miss Maria Michael, a student of Nasarawa State University, said she would celebrate the Valentine's Day in a special way in spite of the fact it was the beginning of lent.

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"We'll have a brief prayer", she said.

"In the UCC, we have a lot of members who were raised Catholic, so we draw on a lot of different sources for our (Lenten) traditions", said the Rev. Steve Craft, pastor of First Reformed UCC in downtown Greensburg.

"Since Valentine's Day is on a Wednesday, we'll get people celebrating the weekend before, as well as Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday", said Christopher Strom, head bartender at Lucrezia's Cafe and Catering in Chesterton.

"The presence of God is all around and is not contained in a building - we invite people to see God in the context of the normal rhythms, streets and public places of life".

During the 40-day period of Lent, Catholics commemorate the central mystery of our faith: the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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The archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, agreed that Ash Wednesday had precedence, adding that the coincidence of St. Valentine's Day "would not lift for us the duty of fasting and self-denial". Unlike Christmas, though, which is celebrated in remembrance of the birth of Jesus, the date of Easter changes every year, falling on April 1 this year.

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