We’ve celebrated Shrove Tuesday and filled our stomachs with delicious pancakes but now it’s time for something quite the opposite: Ash Wednesday.
Marking the first day of Lent and the 40 days of fasting, Ash Wednesday prepares for the celebration of Easter and for the Holy Week.
Still want to know more about the meaning behind today’s spiritual celebration and what fasting can include? Read on!
Why is it significant?
Lent mirrors Jesus’ own 40-day period of fasting in the desert, resisting the temptations of Satan. The fasting period eventually leads up to and ends on Easter Sunday, Jesus’ resurrection from the cross.
How is it celebrated?
People are usually blessed at church with ash, usually drawn with a finger in the shape of a cross on the forehead. There is no fixed way to administer the ash; some churches sprinkle it on the head and in the air. The ashes are made from palm leaves and are blessed by the Holy Communion; most importantly everyone is welcome to participate!
What are the fasting requirements?
For Catholics, no meat is eaten on the Fridays during Lent and fasting in this case usually refers to only eating one full meal a day. However, many others don’t have to follow the strict tradition and can give something up instead. This could include chocolate, smoking, gossiping, a bad habit (we all have a few!). Others spend this time to do more things for others such as volunteering and working harder. Whatever it is, Ash Wednesday is considered the first day of personal transformation and to reflect.
So how will you spend this Ash Wednesday? Personally, I’ll be probably start by giving up on the sweet stuff!
If you’re stuck on what to fast, here are some ideas to help:
- Sweet things (cakes, chocolate, coffee, all the tasty things!)
- Fast food
- Watching TV
- Sleeping in (this will be tough!)