Today is the start of Lent for the Chrisitan Church, also known as Ash Wednesday. It is the 46-day period before Easter begins, and is observed by many Western Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Roman Catholics, and more.
On Ash Wednesday, Catholics and other Christians have ash placed on their forehead, often in the shape of a visible cross. In some ceremonies, ash is sprinkled over the head.
Celebrate today with some memes.
Lent is a time of reflection and patience leading up to Easter Sunday in the Christian world. During Lent, Christians are asked to consider “how we’re doing in our walk with God”, in the words of Life Teen. Ash Wednesday wasn’t officially accepted into the Catholic Church or its belief system until around 325 AD. It was then that the “council”, according to Bible Info, agreed on a 40-day fasting period to celebrate Lent.
What is the significance of ashes? Historically, ashes were used to express grief. They are often made by burning the palm fronds distributed on Palm Sunday of the previous year. And while you once had no choice but to attend church to receive your ashes, many churches now offer “ashes to go” on subway and train platforms, to make life easier for the busy worker.
While Ash Wednesday isn’t directly addressed in the Bible, there are over forty Bible passages that associate ashes with mourning and grief. In the Old Testament, ashes symbolized repentance. (Daniel 9:3-6)
Many devout Christians and Catholics celebrate the religious holiday by taking work off and remaining home. Acording to Catholic.org, “It is generally inappropriate to dine out, to shop, or to go about in public after receiving the ashes. Feasting is highly inappropriate.” This makes the fact that today, February 14, is also Valentines Day arguably problematic for some people.
According to the New York Times, this year marks the first time that Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday have taken place on the same day since 1945. In a video refereced by The New York Times, Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo tells his parishioners, “Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two days of the whole year on which fasting and abstinence are required… Those who are accustomed to celebrating Valentine’s Day might do so, perhaps, the day before. Join it up with Mardi Gras!”