September 23, 2019
Religion

Everything you need to know about Ash Wednesday

inews: Every year, between the excesses of Shrove Tuesday and the disciplined fasting of Lent, Christians mark Ash Wednesday, a day of remorse and repentance.

Here’s the meaning behind the observance, when it falls in 2019 and why worshippers are marked with ash.

What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday always falls the day after Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day – which is always celebrated 47 days before Easter Sunday – making this year’s date 6 March.

It is a Christian holy day which takes its name from the ritual of placing ashes on the foreheads of worshippers and reciting a vow of repentance.

Traditionally, clergy burn palm from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service to create the ash for the ceremony.

The holiday marks the start of Lent, the Christian observance which replicates the Biblical story of Jesus Christ’s withdrawal into the desert for 40 days.

Because of this, Ash Wednesday is traditionally a day of fasting, abstinence and repentance, which many Christians abstaining from all but bread and water until sunset. The ashes have biblical significance as a means of expressing grief, both in the sense of mourning and in expressing sorrow for sins and faults. From the earliest times, Christians have therefore used them as an external sign of repentance, with their use around the start of Lent established by the early medieval times. The gesture is accompanied with the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”, phrases designed to remind worshippers of their mortality and the need to repent.

When does Lent end in 2019? Lent, a shortened form of the Old English word Lenten meaning “spring season”, lasts 40 days of fasting (Sundays are generally excluded during the period) before culminating in the Easter week. Depending on the denomination, the end date falls either on Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, or Holy Saturday on the eve of Easter Sunday. Its basis in the sacrifices made by Jesus means Lent is traditionally a period of abstinence, with many non-Christians still getting into the spirit of the season by giving up a particular treat. Throughout this time, those marking Lent will fast or give up certain luxuries, while others may go to church more often or say an extra prayer every day.

When does Lent end in 2019? Lent, a shortened form of the Old English word Lenten meaning “spring season”, lasts 40 days of fasting (Sundays are generally excluded during the period) before culminating in the Easter week. Depending on the denomination, the end date falls either on Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, or Holy Saturday on the eve of Easter Sunday.

Its basis in the sacrifices made by Jesus means Lent is traditionally a period of abstinence, with many non-Christians still getting into the spirit of the season by giving up a particular treat. Throughout this time, those marking Lent will fast or give up certain luxuries, while others may go to church more often or say an extra prayer every day. Pancake Day is eagerly awaited as final blow-out before Lent begins (Getty Images) With the bleak prospect of 40 days of discipline looming, it was perhaps inevitable that Shrove Tuesday would become an occasion to gorge oneself and cram in as much frivolity as possible.

In French, the date became known as “Mardi Gras”, or “Fat Tuesday”, for this reason, and the label has been adopted in other nations too, most notably the USA. Other traditions have developed around Shrove Tuesday beyond excessive eating, such as the unruly, village-wide football games in the UK which date as far back the 17th century. Although 19th-century law changes made them less commonplace, matches such as Ashbourne’s Royal Shrovetide Football still deliver mud, violence and general mayhem every year.

Source: Published by inews

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