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March 4, 2019, 7:42 PM

What is Ash Wednesday?



Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the season of Lent. Officially named "Day of Ashes," so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross.  Ash Wednesday always falls 40 days before Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). Lent is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fastingrepentance, moderation, giving up of sinful habits, and spiritual discipline.

In the Bible, sprinkling oneself with ashes was traditionally a sign of one's sorrow for having committed sins.

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday also marked the beginning of preparation for the understanding of the death and resurrection of Christ.

The particular symbolism of ashes for this day comes from a practice in the Roman Catholic churches in which the ashes from the palms used in the preceding year's Palm Sunday celebration are blessed. With these ashes, the priest / pastor / minister / clergy on the first day of Lent marks a cross on the forehead of each worshiper. This practice has become a part of Ash Wednesday services in many United Methodist churches.

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