Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lenten season for Christians. It takes place 46 days before Easter and the day after Shrove Tuesday.
Those who celebrate Ash Wednesday reflect, fast, repent and celebrate. The ashes represent death and repentance and Ash Wednesday services focus on both. 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 #AshWednesday
- Attend an Ash Wednesday service.
- Learn more about the history of Ash Wednesday.
- Share your #AshWednesday 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.
Ash Wednesday FAQ
Q. What kinds of ashes are used for the service?
A. The palms used during the previous year’s Palm Sunday are usually burned and the ashes are kept and then blessed for use in Ash Wednesday services.
Q. Is this only a Catholic holiday?
A. No. Ash Wednesday services are performed in many churches of the Christian faith.
Q. When may I remove the ashes from my forehead?
A. There is no requirement to leave the ashes on the forehead though many will wear them until evening.