I write for this website, which means I want you clicking on as many of my articles as possible to help make me look good. But honestly, if you’re sitting in front of your computer screen right now instead of celebrating Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday aka the best holiday in America, then I’m severely disappointed in you. For shame.
Having said that, I do know that Ash Wednesday and Lent are coming up and having known literally nothing about either holiday outside of unfairly ridiculing my buddies for giving up meat forty days a year, I can totally understand wanting to learn a little bit more about this occasion. So, in case you were curious, here’s the full 411 on Ash Wednesday and Lent.
What Is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and its official name is “Day of Ashes” (which sounds way more badass). The reason for this is because followers rub ash on their foreheads in the shape of a cross on this day. Why do they do this? Ash Wednesday is meant to commence the season of Lent with spiritual discipline and the cross represents a person’s connection with Jesus Christ and their intention to repent for their sins.
Interestingly enough, Ash Wednesday is not mentioned in the bible. However, there are accounts in the Old Testament of followers using dust and ashes as a symbol of repentance and/or mourning.
Ash Wednesday was accepted into the beliefs of the Catholic church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.
Ash Wednesday Calendar
2017: March 1
2018: February 14
2019: March 6
2020: February 26
What Is Lent?
Lent is a forty-day season (not counting Sundays) which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. This year, it will begin on March 1 and end on April 15.
Lent lasts for forty days because that is how long Jesus spent in the wilderness as he fought off the temptations of Satan and prepared to spread the good word around town about his old man. These days, Lent is meant as a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for Easter. Followers use this time to strengthen their relationship with god while voluntarily giving something up such as sweets or even something more significant.
Lent become more widespread and commonly accepted as a religious practice when Christianity was legalized in 313 A.D.
2017: March 1 – April 15
2018: February 14 – March 31
2019: March 6 – April 20
2020: February 26 – April 11