Today, Wednesday Feb. 10, is Ash Wednesday. Celebrated by Catholics and other Christians all around the world, Ash Wednesday is an important holiday.
What does it signify? How did it begin?
Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent in the Christian calendar. It is 40 days of fasting, plus 6 Sundays, leading up to Easter. So Ash Wednesday is always 46 days before Easter. The celebration of Ash Wednesday appears to have started in England in the 10th century, approximately 1,000 years ago.
Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted. So Christians are to spend 40 days (plus 6 Sundays) leading up to Easter remembering our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Who died for our sins on Good Friday and rose victorious from the dead on Easter Sunday.
The ashes, which are placed on a believer's forehead on Ash Wednesday, signify repentance, or a turning from our sins. The Catholic liturgy for Ash Wednesday states "Repent and believe the gospel" when ashes are placed on someone's forehead.
We are all to repent, which means turn from our sins, and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior who died for our sins. Ash Wednesday for millions of Christians around the world is a symbolic day and way to express this.