Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lenten season for Christians. It takes place 46 days before Easter and the day after Shrove Tuesday.
Ash Wednesday services focus on the death and repentance the ashes represent. In many churches, the ashes are made from the palm branches that are burned from the previous Palm Sunday service.
Following a service or mass, the pastor or priest will invite their congregation to receive the ashes on their forehead. A cross pattern or other similar mark is made.
This solemn day begins a time of meditation, reflection, self-examination, study, and contemplation when Christians consider their own mortality and sinfulness in preparation for Easter.
HOW TO OBSERVE ASH WEDNESDAY
Attend an Ash Wednesday service. Learn more about the history of Ash Wednesday. Share your Ash Wednesday events and services.
ASH WEDNESDAY HISTORY
The use of ashes during spiritual occasions has ancient non-Christian roots. However, Ash Wednesday and the beliefs that accompany it, date back to the 6th century.
February 17, 2021
March 2, 2022
February 22, 2023
February 14, 2024
March 5, 2025
February 18, 2026
February 10, 2027
March 1, 2028
February 14, 2029
There are over 1,500 national days. Don’t miss a single one. Celebrate Every Day® with National Day Calendar®!
February 17th Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) History
The U.S. Patent Office issues patent no. 4,669X to Chester Stone of Middlebury, New Haven County, Connecticut for the invention of a washing machine. The record of the patent was destroyed in the 1836 Patent Office fire at the Blodget’s Hotel. However, 61 years after Stone invented the washing machine, his son Marvin would invent the revolutionary drinking straw.
Jean-Henry Dunant, Gustave Moynier, Théodore Maunoir, Guillaume-Henri Dufour and Louis Appia organize the humanitarian organization known as the International Red Cross
The Suez Canal officially opens and the first ship passes through, L’Aigle, the imperial yacht of French Empress Eugenie.
Newsweek publishes its first issue. Samuel T. Williamson served as the weekly periodical’s first editor-in-chief.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame opens in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Human chess master, Garry Kasparov defeats IBM’s chess-playing computer, Deep Blue, 4 to 2.
On the grounds of the North Dakota Capitol, 8,962 people set a record by making simultaneous snow angels.
February 17th Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) Birthdays
Raphaelle Peale – 1774
The artist is considered the first professional still-life artist in the United States. According to the National Gallery of Art, no more than 50 of his still-life pieces remain, though he also painted portraits, as did his father Charles.
Hilda Hewlett – 1864
Between 1910 and 1912, Hewlett founded a flying school, became the first British woman to earn a pilot’s license, and started building planes.
Mary Carson Breckinridge – 1881
In 1925, the American nurse-midwife founded the Frontier Nursing Service, providing rural health services. Her efforts brought much-needed training to remote areas of the Kentucky hills and the results were successful in numerous ways.
Hal Holbrook – 1925
The critically acclaimed American actor earned recognition on stage and screen. Known for bringing author Mark Twain to life on Broadway in Mark Twain Tonight!, and the films Into the Wild, All the President’s Men, Lincoln and Water for Elephants.
Lou Diamond Phillips – 1962
The Filipino-American actor is best known for his roles in the films La Bamba, Young Guns, and Stand and Deliver. He’s also known for the television series Longmire and Prodigal Son.
Michael Jordan – 1963
Jordan played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association. During his career, he won six championships with the Chicago Bulls. Following his NBA career, Jordan has accomplished a successful business career.
Aaron Montgomery Ward -1843
Thomas J. Watson – 1874
Daniel Whitney – 1963
Ed Sheeran – 1991