On February 14, 2018, the world will celebrate two different holidays on the same day for the first time since 1945. Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday, creating a day to celebrate extravagant love.
As I’ve scrolled through my social media accounts the past few weeks, I’ve been constantly reminded that both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day were coming up. It wasn’t until about a week and a half ago that I realized they were on the same day, I passed it off as a strange coincidence and continued scrolling.
Then I allowed myself to pause and remind myself how odd this day truly was. From the outside looking in, one may think that these two holidays have nothing in common. If you look a little harder I think you’ll realize that these two holidays revolve around one common theme, love.
Twitter has become a platform for couples to share about the ways their significant other loves them extravagantly. While this doesn’t only happen around Valentine’s Day, February 14th just happens to spark a little more competition to see who can love “best.”
From elaborate and well planned dates, to sweet and sentimental gifts, Twitter sees it all. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good love story. But, I think the desire to post about our love lives have hidden the true meaning of love, and of Valentine’s Day. When you love someone it isn’t supposed to be about the things they do for you, but about the person they are to you. Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate just that.
While I think we’ve gotten a little off track on what Valentine’s Day is all about, these extravagant acts of love remind me of the most extravagant love I’ve ever felt. Ash Wednesday celebrates the beginning of the Lenten Season, a sacred time in the Christian Faith that celebrates the ways in which God has loved us as we prepare to remember His greatest act of love, Jesus.
As these two holidays that celebrate extravagant love merge, I’m reminded of the first bible verse I learned by heart as a child. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16. While this verse has been used time and time again, I think it is the clearest explanation of how much God loved the world and to what lengths he would go to show his love for us.
I find it slightly ironic that what has become a rather secular holiday surrounding over-the-top acts of love, falls on the same day that we begin Lenten Season. A season of celebrating the most extravagant act of love that ever has happened.
So wherever you are in your walk of life, whether that be single, married, dating, etc., I give you the same challenge my friend gave me.This year on February 14th, think about how you’re loved and who you are loved by – no matter who that may be. Think about who you love and what you love and how you can love harder.
Madison Stumbough is a junior majoring in liberal arts and sciences. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.