Ash Wednesday 2023: Why do people wear ashes? Everything to know about Lent

Ash Wednesday 2023: Why do people wear ashes? Everything to know about Lent

On Ash Wednesday, some churches are offering services that allow you the convenience — and safety if you are still social distancing from others to prevent catching viruses — of receiving the blessing and distribution of ashes without leaving your car.

The services — sometimes referred to by clever names, such as “drive-through” or “drive-thru ashes,” “ashes-to-go,” and “ash-and-dash” — have been especially popular during the height of the pandemic, but churches have been offering them for many years.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent — 40 days of prayer, penance and alms-giving — in preparation for Easter. It follows Paczki Day — also known as Fat Tuesday or in French, Mardi Gras — the last day to eat fatty foods, such as paczki, deep-fried Polish doughnuts often filled with jelly, before giving them up.

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday – also known as the Day of Ashes – is a day of repentance, when Catholics and Christians confess their sins and profess their devotion to God leading up to Easter.

William Johnston, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, told USA TODAY it is one of the most important time periods in Catholicism and Christianity, as it’s acknowledged by people who aren’t closely tied to their religion.

Why do people wear ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Some churches mark the foreheads of worshippers with an ash cross on Ash Wednesday. The ashes represent two Biblical themes.

As the ashes are applied to a worshipper’s forehead the priest speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The ashes are made from palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service.

When is Easter?

Lent culminates with Easter Sunday, which will be observed April 9, 2023. The date is different every year, and falls on the first Sunday of the first full moon after the vernal equinox, also called the Paschal Full Moon.


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