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Ash Wednesday: What is it all about?

Today is one of those times of the year where you see everyone on social media posting the same content. Today's general post topic is Ash Wednesday.

Some of us have been practicing Ash Wednesday for as long as we can remember, while the other few of us just know there is a time of the year when everyone walking on the street has something black painted on their forehead. If you're in this second category, here's a little rundown on the basic things about Ash Wednesday.

 

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lenten season; a 40-days fasting period (except Sundays) where Christian's practice a closeness with Jesus Christ by commemorating the 40 Days He fasted in the desert, before meeting His disciples. It is also a reminder to them that man came from dust and unto dust he shall return.

A woman with ash on her forehead When is Ash Wednesday?

The exact date of Ash Wednesday is chosen by the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. In 2022, Ash Wednesday was on the 2nd of March. This year, we celebrate it on the 22nd of February; and it is posted to be on the 14th of February (Valentine's Day??!!!) and 5th of March in 2024 and 2025 respectively. It is always 40 Days before Easter Sunday.

 

Who Practices Ash Wednesday?

Generally, it is practiced by Christians. With different doctrines of Christianity there are different practices for Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday is known to have originated from the Roman Catholics in Rome. The Methodist, Baptist and Anglican Christian doctrines are also known to have similar practices with the Roman Catholics. The Eastern Orthodox doctrine also celebrates Ash Wednesday, but instead holds theirs on Mondays and call it 'Clean Monday'; a period where they show their purity in Christ.

​​A plate of ash 

What is the ash made from?

In previous years, rumours were passed that the ash used on ash Wednesday were from the bones of deceased people who offered to be burnt in eventuality of their death. Thankfully, this is not true. The ash is gotten from palm fronds used before Palm Sunday or used in the previous year's Palm Sunday event.

 

Are there certain restrictions during Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season?

Indeed yes, but this is dependent on the doctrine. For the Roman Catholics, the Lenten season has three major rules. The most know is abstinence from meat (or fish, this is still debateable). The second is abstinence from worldly pleasures during the time of fast, and the last rule is their diet - Those participating in the fast can only have one full meal and two small meals (which when added together cannot make a full meal) per day. Example, in a day a person can eat a plate of rice and maybe a helping of custard in the afternoon and a cup of tea at night (I'm not a catholic, but this is what my friends do)

 

Does that mean my 2-year old has to fast?

Thankfully not! According to the Roman Catholics system, the 40-dyas fast is done by people aged 18 -59 (or older if they are physically able to).

 

So there you have it. Everything you can know about Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season. It's a time of holiness and remembrance and if you don't celebrate it, just take a minute or two to be there for your friends going through this 40-days period of withdrawal. 

Happy Ash Wednesday to you all.

 

Your Fun Blogger,

Ije-AweleUwa Wisdom.


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