For Lent I have given up Irn Bru (and all related fizzy drinks), chocolate, and alcohol. For the most part it's no big deal, except when eating out (because it's surprisingly difficult to get a drink that isn't either alcoholic or carbonated), and indeed barely worth mentioning. Though I'll be glad once Lent is over and normal service can resume.
It turned out that there was one more problem with this plan, though, in that because Easter is so early this year, Valentine's Day fell within the period of Lent. Which meant that the plan to produce a three-course meal and to consume it with a nice bottle of wine was endangered.
Fortunately, there's a loophole...
One of the key origins of Lent is tied up with the forty days Christ spent in the wilderness (see Luke 4), and so for a similar time before Easter Christians will symbolically fast, typically giving something up that they otherwise enjoy. (Ideally, it actually shouldn't be a bad habit or vice - if something is a bad habit or vice one should really just give that up permanently!)
But Lent runs from Ash Wednesday (Feb 10th this year) through to Easter Sunday (March 27th this year) - a period of 46 days. The reason for this discrepancy is that Lent is a period of 40 days that are symbolically set aside. But since Sundays are already symbolically set aside (being Sundays), they don't count towards the total. And so the six Sundays (Feb 14, 21, and 28; and March 6, 13, and 20 this year) aren't part of the 40 days of Lent.
Which was rather lucky - this year Valentine's Day just happened to fall on a Sunday, allowing the exception to trigger just as it was needed. Huzzah!
At least, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it! (I won't be making an exception for the other five Sundays, though, so it's fair to note that I'm not entirely convinced it's a good excuse.)
Anyway, Valentine's dinner this year was started with "Truly Tomato" soup (essentially, a homemade cream of tomato) with rolls (store bought), followed by Chicken Balmoral with mashed potato and whisky sauce (all homemade), and with strawberry ice cream (homemade) and shortbread (bought) for dessert. To drink we had champagne, and later we had a few Valentine's chocolates while watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
All in all, it was rather a success... though rather a lot to eat!
#8: "The SHepherd's Crown", by Terry Pratchett
#9: "Doctor Who: Shada", by Gareth Roberts