Today is Ash Wednesday; the day after Mardi Gras and the start of the Christian Lenten season that leads up to Easter.
During the season, Christians around the world observe a period of reflection, prayer, and penance. Some churches mark the foreheads of worshippers with an ash cross on Ash Wednesday. The ashes represent two Biblical themes.
As the ashes are applied to a worshipper’s forehead the priest speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.”
The ashes are made from palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. Lent represents the 40 days Jesus wandered the desert praying and fasting after he was baptized. Some Christians give something up for Lent. And some abstain from eating meat on Fridays.
Despite Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, Lent lasts 46 days. Sundays during Lent are not “prescribed days” of fasting and abstinence, so those don’t count. Lent ends on Holy Thursday, which is April 6, when there is a Mass to represent Jesus’ last supper.
Meat isn’t the only thing you can give up for Lent. Many people give up chocolate, candy, alcohol, or other decadent or favourite foods.
The Catholic Telegraph, published by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, suggests ways for families to participate by giving up sugary drinks or eating out.
Lent culminates with Easter Sunday, which will be observed on April 9, 2023. The date is different every year and falls on the first Sunday of the first full moon after the vernal equinox, also called the Paschal Full Moon.
Read Also: LENT; A Stimulus for Christian Involvement In Social Struggle
The Eastern Orthodox Church follows a Julian calendar instead of the typical Gregorian, and its Easter celebrations are on the following Sunday, April 16.