Fasting or champagne? Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday in rare confluence

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Chocolates and champagne or ashes and fasting?Heavily Irish-American Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States often make an exception when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Lenten Friday, allowing for the traditional corned beef and cabbage on a day when church members would normally be asked to avoid meat.

But church leaders around the country said no such exception would be forthcoming when Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day overlap for the first time since 1945.

“Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two days of the whole year on which fasting and abstinence are required,” Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, told church members in a video posted online Friday. “Those who are accustomed to celebrating Valentine’s Day might do so the day before. Join it up with Mardis Gras.”

Christians will face a similar holiday overlap again in a few weeks’ time, when April Fool’s Day and Easter both fall on April 1.

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