Lent begins Wednesday with many Christians marking the start of the 40-day period with ashes imposed on their foreheads.
The time of repentance, prayer, and fasting leads to Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, which this year, unlike most, will be celebrated on the same day, April 4, by both Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodox Christians.
The ancient ritual of imposing ashes on believers' foreheads is an acknowledgement of mortality, with clerics reciting a phrase such as, "Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return."
Many area churches are planning special Lenten suppers, Bible studies, Communion services, and biblical dramas.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Maumee, 112 East Wayne St., will present the Lenten drama They Followed the Master at 7 p.m. Wednesdays from Feb. 24 through March 24.
Members of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in the Old West End and Trinity Episcopal Church downtown will join together on Wednesday nights for a simple supper and discussion of Marcus Borg's book, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time.
Also inspiring some special church events is Valentine's Day, tomorrow's celebration of love.
At Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Oregon, couples will renew their marriage vows at the 8 and 10:30 a.m. services and a Valentine's Fellowship Dinner is set for 5 p.m.
The Rev. Tom Schaeffer of Threshold Church canceled services and is encouraging people to go out and "put a smile on people's faces through simple acts of kindness and love." Suggestions include buying a dozen roses and then giving them to the clerk, picking up the tab for someone else at a restaurant, or shaking the hands of police and firefighters.
Vineyard Church of Toledo, 210 East South Boundary, Perrysburg, will show the new documentary Furious Love at 6 p.m. (admission is $5). The film is by Darren Wilson, a native of Monroe whose previous movie, Finger of God, reported on unusual miracles around the world.
St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, 3620 Heatherdowns Blvd., recognizing that not everyone looks forward to tomorrow's holiday, will hold an "I Don't Like Valentine's Day" party starting at 6 tonight with an hour of "Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" country songs.