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What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday or the "Day of Ashes" marks the first day of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and prayer. During an Ash Wednesday Mass, the priest or pastor will place ashes, typically in the shape of a cross, on an observer's forehead and say, "You are from dust, and to dust you shall return" (Ecclesiastes 3:20).

In the Old Testament, believers used dust and ashes as symbols of repentance and/or mourning (2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3). The ash used for Ash Wednesday is traditionally created by burning the remains of last year's palm leaves from Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. This mark symbolizes mourning for Christ's suffering and sharing the act of sacrifice through the observance of Lent.

While the Bible does not mention or require the observance of Ash Wednesday or Lent, they are both beautiful traditions observed within the Catholic faith and more liturgical churches to help re-center a believer's life back on Jesus Christ. Whether one chooses to observe these days is a matter of conscience (Romans 14:5-6; Colossians 2:16).

This is an easy way to figure out the date of Ash Wednesday this year.

TL;DR

Ash Wednesday is a tradition observed within the Catholic faith and more liturgical churches to help re-center a believer's life back on Jesus Christ. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and prayer. The ashen cross received symbolizes mourning for Christ's suffering and sharing the act of sacrifice through the observance of Lent. Whether one chooses to observe these days is a matter of conscience (Romans 14:5-6; Colossians 2:16).

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.

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