Ash Wednesday is here! It’s hard for me to believe that it’s Lent already when it feels as if Christmas has only just passed (full disclosure–Brian and I still have our Christmas tree up!!). Besides the Triduum–which is pretty much Lent–Lent is my favorite Church season, and, other than Good Friday, Ash Wednesday is my favorite Mass. Technically, Ash Wednesday is my all-time favorite Mass because Good Friday isn’t actually a Mass (it’s a Service).
Ash Wednesday is a Catholic holy day that celebrates the first day of Lent. For the Catholics out there, it is important to note that it is not a holy day of obligation. However, I still highly recommend that you attend! Catholics should also remember that Ash Wednesday is designated as a day of fasting. This is different from Lenten Fridays–which are days of abstinence–in that not only the type of food, but also the amount of food should be regulated. On Ash Wednesday, Catholics are supposed to abstain from meat and fast. Fasting is generally described as eating one full meal and two smaller meals. Children, pregnant women, and the sick are excused from all Lenten dietary restrictions.
7 Facts About Ash Wednesday
- The practice of receiving ashes dates back to around 900 A.D.
- Ash Wednesday is not just a Catholic holy day. It is also celebrated by Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others.
- In the bible, having your forehead marked is a sign of ownership. Therefore, having your forehead marked with a cross symbolizes that you belong to Christ.
- The ashes symbolize penance, mourning, death, and mortality.
- When ashes are placed upon your forehead, one of two phrases is said: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
- The ashes are made from the palm fronds used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday and are blessed by a priest.
- According to EWTN, palm fronds are used “because Palm Sunday was when the people rejoiced at Jesus’ triumphant entrance to Jerusalem. They celebrated his arrival by waving palm fronds, little realizing that he was coming to die for their sins. By using palms from Palm Sunday, it is a reminder that we must not only rejoice of Jesus’ coming but also regret the fact that our sins made it necessary for him to die for us in order to save us from hell.”
Do you know anything interesting about Ash Wednesday? Do you have any questions about why Catholics do a certain thing? Let’s talk! Let me know what you think in the comment section below!