Today is Ash Wednesday in the Christian faith, a religious holiday which occurs 46 days before Easter. Participants fast for 40 days as a symbolic representation of the 40 days which Jesus spent being tempted by the Devil in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
The name comes from the practice of blessing the ashes of burned palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The ashes are then pressed to the forehead in the shape of the cross, traditionally with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This practice is a tangible reminder of those who participate of their sin, their need to repent, and their mortality.
Traditionally, some form of fasting is common, specifically the avoidance of meat and sweets, but the specific type of fast varies between cultures.
Jules Peaslea, Communications Intern
February 10, 2016