The observance of Ash Wednesday and celebration of Valentine’s Day on Feb.14 has generated mixed feeling among a section of Nigerians.
Ash Wednesday is the ceremony to commence the Lenten period and entails fasting and abstinence from eating meat while Valentine’s Day is a day set aside to celebrate Love.
The two celebrations coinciding on Feb. 14, 2018, has generated discussions by people on the propriety to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the usual way or not.
A cross section of residents in Mararaba, Nasarawa State, told newsmen on Tuesday that the two events coinciding on the same day was something special.
A Catholic priest, Rev. Father, Eugene Irobmez, said Nigerian Churches should focus on Ash Wednesday, to mark the beginning of lent, the time of reflection and penitence.
According to Irobmez, the two events first coincided 60 years ago, when Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday were celebrated on the same day.
Irobemz said the tradition of the church was that the Ash Wednesday surpassed every other day, because it was a day of obligation.
“It is a day of obligation when Christians are encouraged to fast and abstain from meat, a day of obligation supersede Valentine’s Day.
“Valentine’s Day is not a feast of solemnity, but it is a memorial day; a day to be remembered. So, in this case, solemnity supersedes Memorial Day,’’ the priest said.
Irobemz explained that Ash Wednesday was the beginning of lent, an official day Christians fast, asked for forgiveness of sin and a day of soberness.
He, however, noted that valentine could be celebrated any other day.
“Since it is a day to show love, showing of love can be celebrated any other day like on Sunday because we do not usually fast on Sundays.
“You cannot reconcile a sober period with a day of celebration; when a priest gives ashes to people, it signifies that you should remember that we are dust, unto dust we shall return.
“The life we have now is temporal, there is a final destination for everyone which we have to prepare for, because the day is close,” Irobemz said.
Meanwhile, some residents told pressmen that the coincidence in the double celebration was a setback, describing Ash Wednesday as a day of abstinence.
Mr. Tony David, a resident said, “We are not allowed to eat meat that day and with the Valentine celebration of showing love, eating meats and drinking is the main thing.
“As a Christian, my religious obligation is supreme for me to make heaven. I will just sacrifice the love for meat this valentine.
“However, I know that next year, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s day will not fall on the same day,’’ he said.
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.
“I already know that Ash Wednesday is a day to remember that we are ashes and to ashes we shall return, but eating good food to be alive is also necessary.
“I will not lie; I am going to eat chicken that day with my boyfriend because that is the only opportunity that my guy will take care of me in special way.
“He can also fast any other day but on that Feb.14 it will be something different because the environment will be filled with love and we have to flow with it,’’ she said.
Mrs. Chioma Jude said Ash Wednesday happens to be a day of fasting, when you seek the face of God and asked for pardon.
“Such day cannot be sacrificed for anything not even Valentine; one can still celebrate love any other day with his or her loved ones,” she said.
Mrs. Esther Daniel told newsmen, “as for me, my husband and I will go and receive our Ash in the morning and later in the evening, we will celebrate our Valentine’s Day because of the necessity,” she said.