What is Lent? Why does it start on Ash Wednesday? And, what is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday begins this year on February 18, 2015 and carries on until Easter. It marks the first day of Lent, which lasts for 40 days. During this time, many fast, abstain from things they consider luxuries and do good deeds in preparation for Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Some choose to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, as well as all the Fridays that follow throughout Lent. Abstaining from meat on Good Friday is also tradition.
So, what is Lent exactly? In Christianity, it’s a 40 day period that leads up to Easter, which gives people time to reflect, fast and abstain from certain activities. The 40 days are to symbolize the 40 days and nights that Jesus Christ spent alone in the desert, leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection. Lent is actually 46 days, but Sundays are not included.
As far as Ash Wednesday is concerned, the day is looked at as a time to cleanse the soul before Lent begins its season. Ashes are marked on church-goers heads in the shape of a cross to show repentance for their sins. Lent 101 writes:
Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, usually begins with a service where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and re-turn our lives towards Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ.
And, the reason for the ashes used on Ash Wednesday is because in both Jewish and Christian history, they are a sign of repentance and mortality. To learn more about Lent and it’s specific dates, have a look at the below link: