Ash Wednesday

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Image from

Emily Ramos

What is Ash Wednesday?

How people receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.(Image from

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of lent for people practicing different religions, the most common is Catholic and Christian.  People usually attend mass on this day and receive ashes on their forehead in the form of a cross. The ashes symbolize death and repentance. People who participate show repentance and mourning for their sins during this period because they believe that Christ died for them. Everyone in the age group of 14 or younger is not obligated to participate but people 14 years or older may take part in this.  Usually, while someone is receiving the mark with the ashes the priest or deacon will say “Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.” The people receiving the ashes would follow by saying “Amen,” and walking back to take their seats.

What do people participating have to do? What do those who participate think about it?

On the day of Ash Wednesday Catholics are allowed to eat one full meal and two other smaller meals which combined would not equal one single normal meal. Lent lasts 40 days Jesus is being commemorated for the 40 days he spent fasting in the desert and ending temptation by satan. Every Friday those who practice this custom cannot eat any type of red meat and are only allowed to consume fish or other foods of the sort. The end of this forty-day period is marked and celebrated by the lord’s resurrection at easter.

“I haven’t been to church in months but in my opinion, I don’t want to give up meat but it’s a part of my religion and I have to respect that.” Many people feel like they have to participate in Ash Wednesday because their family does it and so they are expected to do it as well. Even if some may not regularly attend mass every week they still participate. she also says, “My parents aren’t really religious but I think that they want to be a part of it to show responsibility or to show me and my siblings that it is an important thing to do.” Many people go out with their families during Ash Wednesday to receive the ashes. Parents may want to connect their children with their church and they are able to do so by participating in lent. Younger generations are taught and shown what older generations usually do and continuing those customs is up to them when they get older.