This year, Ash Wednesday takes place on Wednesday 6 March. Ash Wednesday occurs exactly 46 days before Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday occurs a day after Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as ‘Mardi Gras’.
One of the major tenets of the Christian faith is living one's life with humility and repentance. For many Christians, the origins of Ash Wednesday are the annual reminder of where our hearts should be in relation to God, and of the reason, Jesus became our atonement.
It is a Christian holy day of prayer, fasting, and repentance. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to either the words "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or the dictum "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
Since it is the first day of Lent, many Christians, on Ash Wednesday, often begin marking a Lenten calendar, praying a Lenten daily devotional, and abstaining from a luxury that they will not partake in until Easter Sunday arrives.
Ashes are ceremonially placed on the heads of Christians on Ash Wednesday, either by being sprinkled over their heads or, in English-speaking countries, more often by being marked on their foreheads as a visible cross. Ash Wednesday marks the start of a 40-day period, which is an allusion to the separation of Jesus in the desert to fast and pray.
Here are a few verses specific to Ash Wednesday to meditate and reflect on, and then a prayer you can pray to observe the day:
Genesis 3:19 - By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 2:7 - Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
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