What is Ash Wednesday?

In the Christian Church, Wednesday, March 2 is the beginning of Lent, the 46-day period leading up to Easter, and for some Christians this a time marked by sacrifice or fasting. In many Churches, this time of year a common topic of conversation is “so, what are you giving up for Lent?”

Within the Christian Church, the day at the start of Lent is known as Ash Wednesday and is marked by the tradition of the “imposition of ashes” – the marking of a cross on the forehead with ashes from the previous year’s Palm Crosses. As the ashes are imposed, the Priest will say “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The words said to Adam and Eve at the time of their downfall.

This tradition is attributed to Pope Gregory I the Great (c. 540–604) and in the English Church it can be traced back to about the 11th century, where evidence exists that in the year 1000 ashes were strewn on the heads of men, and women, who would have had their heads covered in church, had the ashes placed on their foreheads.

So, if you see people walking around this week with ash on their forehead, the chances are these are there by choice and not a sign of the absence of personal hygiene. They have been “ASHED” as an outward sign of their faith and as a commitment to their Lenten journey.

Article submitted by All Saints Anglican Church Algarve, The Church in the Park, Jardim das Comunidades, Almancil