Observed 46 days before Easter, Ash Wednesday is considered to be the beginning of Lent in Christianity. Oftentimes, during this period, different groups of Christians cease to use certain comforts or make a similar resolution to give something up or do something special for the period of Lent. This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 14. It is thought to be a day in which observant Christians show penance.
Ash Wednesday - History
Martin Luther Argues Against Fasting
The protestant reformer threw out fasting during Lent because he believed it wasn't Biblically based.
Lent Lasts 40 days
Decided by the Council of Nicea, Lent becomes a fixed amount of days.
St. Iraneus Writes about Lent
The Roman bishop mentions a Lenten period during the early church that was much shorter than 40 days.
How to Observe Ash Wednesday
1. Fast for the day
Many Christians observe Ash Wednesday by fasting from bread and water. Often they think it helps give them a sense of perspective, so that they can better ruminate on life.
2. Receive ashes on your forehead
On Ash Wednesday you may see some people with ashes on their forehead in the shape of the cross. Leaders of the church place ash on the forehead of the congregants. The ashes symbolize penance.
3. Reflect in your own way
Choose however you feel is right to observe the holiday. Religion is a personal experience. Reflection can be too.
Why Ash Wednesday is Important
A. Time to think
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. During Lent many people give up certain luxuries. Living without these luxuries gives people the opportunity to reflect on what they consider really important in life.
B. Brings the family together
Those who go to church sometimes attend with their loved ones. Ash Wednesday pushes family to spend time with each other
C. Don't have to worry about a date
This year Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine's Day. Forget the holiday that Hallmark made to hurt single people everywhere. This year forgo the overpriced dinners. This year don't pick up flowers. This year don't feel guilty watching Nora Ephron movies by yourself.