March 2 marks the Ash Wednesday for 2022. So, are you sacrificing anything for Lent this year?
And if that’s the case, how much do you know about Ash Wednesday, other than it being officially the start of the repentant period in the Christian calendar?
Ash Wednesday is a Christian feast that is extensively observed and is one of the liturgical calendar’s most important holy days. It gets its name from the Christian practice of putting ashes on believers’ foreheads and performing a repentance vow.
Here’s all you need to know about Ash Wednesday, from the origins of the holiday to when it falls this year.
What is Ash Wednesday all about?
Ash Wednesday, also known as the Day of Ashes, has long been seen as a day of fasting, abstinence, and repentance, with many Christians abstaining from all foods except bread and water until sunset.
Ash Wednesday is always the day after Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, which is also always 47 days before Easter Sunday. Therefore, this year’s date Wednesday, March 2nd, is Ash Wednesday in the year 2022, a few weeks later than in 2021.
The eponymous ash for the church event is traditionally made by burning palm from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. Ashes have biblical importance as a way of expressing grief, both in the sense of mourning and in the sense of expressing sorrow for sins and flaws. Christians have used them as an external expression of repentance since the beginning of time. In fact, their use at the start of Lent goes back to the early middle Ages.
Ash Wednesday Rituals and Traditions
The period of spiritual discipline begins on Ash Wednesday. The day is observed by churchgoers being marked with ashes in the shape of a cross on their foreheads.
Moreover, the ceremony is performed to represent agony and regret for previous transgressions. Black ashes signify the dust from which we were created by the Almighty. The Bishop speaks the words as he places the ashes on a person’s forehead, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.”
The practice of putting ashes on the foreheads of persistent sinners developed as a way for people’s desire for repentance. It is said that the ashes represent God’s grief and division.
The Importance of Ash Wednesday Observance
As mentioned above, Ash Wednesday is primarily associated with repenting of sinful behaviors and acknowledging past misdeeds, as well as the sacrifice made by Jesus to atone for those sins. The wearing of ashes as a sign of penance is mentioned in writings from the second century Church..
People either fast by eating two meals or offer meat on Ash Wednesday. A priest or a family member may deliver ashes to persons who are sick or shut-in in particular instances.
So how long does Lent last?
Lent is a shortened form of the Old English word Lenten (spring season). It is a 40-day period of fasting (except Sundays) that culminates in the Easter week.
The conclusion date is either Maundy Thursday (14 April), the day before Good Friday. Or, it may also be Holy Saturday (16 April), the day before Easter Sunday, depending on the religion.
Other than fasting, those who observe Lent may also give up certain indulgences during this time. Meanwhile, others may attend church more frequently or offer an additional prayer every day. Many non-Christians also participate by giving up a particular indulgence. – WhatALife!