What is Ash Wednesday 2023? The meaning behind the first day of Lent

Cross and a bowl of ashes to represent Ash Wednesday

Simple Christian cross, bowl filled with ashes and white linen on a dark wooden background with copy space

Today (February 22) marks an important date in the Christian calendar – Ash Wednesday.

The religious holiday follows Shrove Tuesday — known by many as Pancake Day — and signals the coming of Lent.

After this time, Christians around the world celebrate Good Friday and Easter to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection.

But what exactly is Ash Wednesday and where does its name come from?

What is Ash Wednesday and who celebrates the day?

Ash Wednesday is a holy day of prayer, fasting and penance. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday and falls on the first day of Lent, the six weeks of penance before Easter.

Mass on Ash Wednesday. The Imposition of the Ashes. Tan Dinh Church

Ash Wednesday and Lent is mainly observed by Catholics and Christians (Image: Getty)

The date always falls 46 days before Easter Sunday and is mainly celebrated by Catholics and Christians.

Lent is a time of reflection and repentance of sin, while those who observe it are expected to seek reconciliation with God.

Many choose not to indulge in indulgences or fasts during Lent to represent the temptation of Christ as he fasted for 40 days and nights in the Judean Desert.

Why is it called Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday takes its name from early traditions in the Christian Church in Rome when penitents and sinners participated in a time of public penance.

They were sprinkled with ashes and dressed in sacks until they were reconciled with the churchgoers on Maundy Thursday.

Pope Francis leads Ash Wednesday Mass in Vatican City (Image: Vatican Pool – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

This practice had faded by the 10th century, with Lent being marked by placing ashes on viewers’ foreheads in the shape of a cross.

This ash traditionally comes from burning palm trees used on Palm Sunday.

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https://metro.co.uk/2023/02/22/what-is-ash-wednesday-2023-the-meaning-behind-the-first-day-of-lent-18309143/ What is Ash Wednesday 2023? The meaning behind the first day of Lent

Justin Scaccy

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