What is Ash Wednesday? Ash Wednesday is one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar. It opens the Lenten season, a time of fasting and prayer for Christians. The Lenten Season goes from Ash Wednesday till Easter Sunday. According to Catholic Online, it comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting, which includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes remind that God made man from and to dust you shall return. The ashes also symbolize grief and that we have turned from God in our sin.
As a Christian day of fasting and repentance, many will attend church services and receive ashes on their foreheads. Most Western Christian denominations observe the day (Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans, Moravians, Methodists, and Nazarenes to name a few). Fasting usually consists of two small meals and one large meal (usually dinner) that is simple rather than ostentatious or luxurious. Eating meat is also forbidden (beef, pork, poultry and related) but fish is allowed. Catholics will fast on every Friday until Easter Sunday except when it is a solemnity. It is also a time where observants will give up something for the Lenten season. Sometimes it can be a food or activity (like watching television). In more strict observances, a strictly vegetarian diet is observed for the Lenten season that often excludes dairy products.
- Ash Wednesday (Catholic.org)
- What is Ash Wednesday (Christianity Today)