Ash Wednesday 2020 will be marked on February 26 this year. It is a holy day for Christians that marks the beginning of the religious observance of Lent. The period of Lent is the time of penitence before the celebration of Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ash Wednesday is also called as the Day of Ashes and it begins the 40-day period of repentance and fasting. It is time to focus on Christ's life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection. A special service is held in the church on this day. Ahead of Ash Wednesday 2020, we tell you a bit more into the history and significance of this holy observance.
History and Significance of Ash Wednesday
In the early Christian church observance, Lenten celebration varied but it was gradually fixed on six weeks (42 days) before Easter. As per Britannica, the practice began in Rome for penitents and sinners to begin their period of public penance. According to Christian scholars, Lent was regularized in A.D. 313. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants.
Those who attend Catholic church services, a priest or pastor dips their finger in the ashes and makes the cross pattern on forehead and says either the words "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or the dictum "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." The ashes symbolise death and repentance. When a person receives the ashes on Ash Wednesday, it means they're sorry for the sins we have done and would repent them in the period of Lent. It is a time to purify hearts and control desires before celebrating the festival of Easter with joy. The cross mark with ash became an association of people embracing the observance.
The period of Lent commemorates the biblical narrative of Jesus Christ who spent 40 days and nights fasting in the desert where he was tempted by Satan. Many people keep a fast on Ash Wednesday as well. The celebration of Easter Sunday will be marked on April 12, this year.