JM | Feb 22, 2023

Why is today called Ash Wednesday?

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ash Wednesday is an important day of reflection and spiritual renewal for many Christians, as they begin their journey towards Easter and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day that marks the beginning of Lent, a period of fasting, prayer, and repentance that lasts for 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday.

If you are like me, then you have probably questioned why the holiday is always celebrated on a Wednesday and never any other day of the week. This is because it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday, and the 40 days before Easter Sunday is always a Wednesday. There cannot be an “Ash Thursday” or “Ash Monday”.

The next question you may then ask is: What is the meaning behind the word ‘ash’ in Ash Wednesday?

Today, millions of Christians across the globe will observe Ash Wednesday by placing ashes in the shape of a cross on their forehead. The ashes are typically made from palm branches that were blessed and burnt on the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The burnt palm or ashes are symbolic of our human frailty and a reminder that we are mortal being.

The ashes are used as a reminder that humans were made from dust by God and will return to the ground where they are buried after death. A similar practice can also be seen at some Jamaican funerals, where a priest would take the dirt from a burial ground and sprinkle it over a casket, repeating the phrase “ashes to ashes dust to dust”.


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