Lent may have already begun, however Easter is not here for a few weeks and therefore, we thought now is as great a time as any to share some interesting facts regarding Ash Wednesday with you. What is Ash Wednesday, Ash Wednesday is the day directly after Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday that Lent begins upon. And we here at Sir Holiday, have been so caught up in planning our Easter Egg hunts and falling in love with all things Easter that we felt it was important to one of the most important build-ups to Easter, Lent. Therefore, without further ado, let us dive straight into a couple must know facts about Ash Wednesday.
You may not be mandated to attend Church on Ash Wednesday, but for Roman Catholics everywhere they are strongly encouraged to attend a service of mass and to receive their ashes upon this day. However, it is not a Holy Day of obligation and therefore it is not absolutely mandatory for Catholics to attend mass.
The giving of the ashes is a symbolic reminder to all members of the Church of the Biblical verse “From dust you came and to dust you shall return,’ which is an echo of humanities own mortality and limited time on Earth. In the beginning of the Church, ashes were used as a form of purification, as all sinners who wished to be brought back into the fold first had to receive the ashes before they could begin their journey to reacceptance.
Lent is meant to mirror the forty days and forty nights that Jesus spent within the desert where he fasted and was continually tempted by the devil over the course of that time period, as described within the book of Matthew. Lent dates all the way back to 325 AD, despite of the fact that neither Lent nor Ash Wednesday has ever been mentioned within the Bible.
The way fasting is carried out during Lent was outlined in accordance with Canon Law (religious laws laid out by the Vatican), no meat may be consumed on Fridays during the forty days and there may only be large meal or two meals that add up to one full meal on the days of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
People with health issues and children under the age of 14 are exempt from these traditions. Although meat may not be eaten, many Catholics choose to eat fish and recently alligator meat was approved as well. In the 1600’s Puffins were approved to be eaten as well as they were seen to be both land and water animals.
Many Catholics use this time as a period of introspection to allow them to recognise their own sins and grow with their own relationship with Christ, through the quiet that is offered through this period of fasting.
Another interesting fact about Lent is that Sundays are excluded which means that many Catholics tend to indulge and feast during this time, before the week begins again and they are back into their period of introspection.
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Picture of the Vatican:
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