Ash Wednesday 2021

Every year, usually by the end of Feb or March, it’s not uncommon to see some Christians walking around with an ash cross on their foreheads. While people in the faith know its connection to Lent, not many would know the significance of the ash cross or what even the Ash Wednesday might mean. If you aren’t sure what it is or if you are entirely new to it, here is all you need to know about Ash Wednesday 2021.


What Ash Wednesday Is and How It Is celebrated

Every year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, which is a season lasting 40 days (excluding Sundays) that is centered around repentance, reflection, fasting, and celebration. Ash Wednesday always comes 46 days before Easter Sunday and is meant to represent the time when Jesus Christ was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, where he fasted for 40 days.


For the unacquainted, the Lent, in simple terms, is time set aside to prepare for Good Friday and Easter spiritually. So it is not just a regular day at church but a chance to experience God’s overflowing grace. In the meantime, Christians reflect upon the human condition and the need for a savior.


On Ash Wednesday, during mass (Catholics) or Worship Service (Protestants), a sermon that is reflective and penitential is shared by the pastor or priest followed by long silences in a solemn mood. The passage from scripture, which is that is rooted in confession, is read aloud, and the attendees will have moments where they pray silently and confess their sins. They also have communal confessions, and the whole congregation would receive ashes on their foreheads. The priest dips his finger in the ashes and draws the cross on the foreheads of all attendees.


History of Ash Wednesday

According to historians, Ash Wednesday has a non-Christian origin. It was accepted by the Catholic Church as part of the beliefs at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The 40-day period to celebrate Lent was also settled upon at this council. However, it wasn’t until 313 AD after the legalization of Christianity that Lent became regularized.


Ash Wednesday 2021

Lent 2021 is marked by Ash Wednesday which falls on February 17th this year. Then comes Palm Sunday on March 28th, 2021. Good Friday is on April 2nd, 2021, and Easter Sunday is on April 4th, 2021.


Where the Ash Comes from and What It Symbolizes

The ash for the ceremony comes from burning the blessed palm branches from the last year’s Palm Sunday celebration. Palm branches are blessed and handed over to attendees on Palm Sunday celebration, which is a reference to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As per the Gospels, his path was laid with palm branches by onlookers and has gained an association with the celebration.


The ash is scented with exposure to incense and christened with the holy water. Symbolically, the ashes represent death and repentance, and the followers are meant to use the season of Lent to reflect on their sins and correct their hearts and ways. It is also a reminder that God is merciful to those who seek him with a repenting heart. Therefore with an intense focus on their sinfulness and mortality, Christians can enter into Lent season with deep sincerity and look forward to the joy of Easter.


What Not to Eat on Ash Wednesday

The strict rules that governed the season have changed over the centuries. While some churches still maintain the orthodoxy, especially in the Eastern churches, the ones in the west have relaxed many of the rules. The diet only included one meal in the evening. At the same time, eggs, meat, fish, and butter, along with oil, wine, and dairy products are forbidden. During World War 2, these strict laws were dispensed with, and Lenten fasting days were only observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.


Who celebrates Ash Wednesday

Lent is observed by Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants (many but not all). Although the name Lent is nowhere mentioned in the Bible, the path of it, which involves generosity, fasting, and prayer, is emphasized by the characters in the Bible, including Jesus. A lifestyle of worship and devotion that is highlighted by the Bible is very similar to Lent; therefore, most Christians follow it as its fundamental tenets are woven into the whole religion.


If you are making travel plans for Lent this year, then Goa is definitely a place to travel to experience the celebrations in its entire splendor. Goa’s carnival for the celebration is a sight to behold as it makes its way through the streets. While it is deeply religious, the event is also a cultural highlight for the state that should be witnessed both by the faithful and the visitors. However, please check out the latest travel updates and restrictions if any amid the Covid-19 crisis as you plan to travel for Ash Wednesday 2021. To plan your trip, book your bus tickets online on redBus to get the best prices early. Choose the operator and the comfort you wish and make a splendid trip this Lent season.

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