Ash Wednesday

Christian Festival Marks the start of the Easter cycle in the Western Christian Church

Ash Wednesday marks the start of the period of Lent

When is Ash Wednesday?

Dates of Ash Wednesday
Year Day Date
2019 Wednesday March 6th
2018 Wednesday February 14th
2017 Wednesday March 1st
2016 Wednesday February 10th
2015 Wednesday February 18th
Who observes Ash Wednesday?
Public holidays in Brazil in 2017 Brazil
Public holidays in Cayman Islands in 2017 Cayman Islands
Public holidays in Jamaica in 2017 Jamaica
Public holidays in Panama in 2017 Panama

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent in the Western church.

The name of the day comes from the custom that churchgoers are marked on the forehead with a cross of ash to symbolise death and regret for past sins. The priest will accompany the marking with a recital of Genesis 3:19 - "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return".

Traditionally the ashes are created from burning the palms used in the church on Palm Sunday the previous year. Palm Sunday marked the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem after his 40 days and nights in the desert.

During the 40 days before Easter, Roman Catholics are supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures, including the consumption of meat. This is intended to remember the fasting of Jesus, who spent 40 days in the desert before beginning his ministry.

The Orthodox Christian church has no tradition of ashes and Lent begins on Orthodox Shrove Monday.

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