Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season (a period of 40-some days) focused on spiritual purification and repentance, begins February 18.
A day solemnly dedicated to reflection, prayer and fasting for the Catholic and Anglican churches, the Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of the distribution of ashes upon the foreheads of Christians, Pennlive reports.
It ends on Holy Thursday, the fifth day of Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) that marks the Last Supper.
In addition to certain rules about foods and fasting, many Christians (and even non-Christians) abstain from additional foods, luxury or material goods or certain activities and habits, according to Times.
The black marks placed on the foreheads are meant to be crosses, although as the day wears on they can look like black smudges. They are a mixture of ashes, Holy Water and, sometimes, olive oil.
The ashes come from the palms used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter that marks Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem where he was met with palm branches by believers. It’s especially significant, because Jesus was greeted in Jerusalem as a hero and the Messiah by the mob and he would eventually be put to death by the hands of the Romans at the insistence of those people.
The ashes are meant to remind Christians about human mortality, while also showing the individual’s desire for repentance and mourning of their own sins.
Wishing all our ardent fans and readers a Happy Ash Wednesday!!!!