How Is the Date of Ash Wednesday Determined?
By Suzanna Joseph
Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday and falls on the first day of Lent, the six weeks of penitence before Easter. Ash Wednesday is traditionally observed by Western Christians. It is observed by Anglicans, Catholics in the Roman Rite, Lutherans, Methodists, Moravians, Nazarenes, Independent Catholics, as well as by many from the Reformed faith.
Ash Wednesday falls on the first Wednesday, after the third full moon following Christmas.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lenten season.
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Fasting begins from Ash Wednesday till Saturday eve before Easter Sunday.
Count 46 days after Ash Wednesday the following 47th day becomes Easter Sunday.
Deduct 6 Sundays from these 46 days, as Sunday is excluded from fasting, we have 40 days for fasting.
Tradition holds that ancient Christians created ashes from the burning of palms blessed in the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration. This ash is then used by the priest to mark the forehead of parishioner as an act of repentance.