NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Christians across the world are observing Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent.
Lent is a 40-day period of prayer, penance and sacrifice in preparation for the celebration of Easter.
Worshipers mark the start of the Season of Lent with ashes — a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the church.
This year Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day for the first time since 1945.
Valentine’s Day has its origins as a Christian feast day celebrating St. Valentine, but for centuries has been more of a time to give flowers and chocolate.
For those not sure how to take part in both, Timothy Cardinal Dolan offered some advice.
“Why don’t we say a prayer for one another? Why don’t we do an act of charity for someone else? Why don’t we do an act of penance for one another as a sign of our love?” Dolan said. “Love doesn’t depend on chocolates. It doesn’t depend on greeting cards. It doesn’t depend on flowers.”