Ash Wednesday, and What it Means Today

Some people jokingly say that the turn out on Ash Wednesday is due to all of the sins that they committed on Fat Tuesday. Christians all over the world will come together to get the marking of the cross in ashes on their foreheads. They will wear it throughout their day as a reminder of repentance and renewal.

These ashes symbolize repentance and sorrow for the sins they have committed. They also prove their undying love and dedication for The Lord. Ultimately, this is a ceremony for believers to repent.  Ash Wednesday marks the end of Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent. It also represents new beginnings, repentance and new direction or reflection.

Many churches across the word will be hosting these services. This ceremony is most common with the Roman Catholic religion, Lutherans, Anglicans and Episcopalians.  There are a select few Presbyterian and Methodist churches now participating in these ancient and symbolic ceremonies as well.

It seems that Ash Wednesday is as old as religion itself may finally become accepted by a variety dominations around the world.  It is a very beautiful and meaningful ceremony that many Christians consider a must do activity every year regardless of what may be going on in their daily lives.

Ash Wednesday is more than a day to practice religious rituals. It is recognized a national holiday in places including: Jamaica, The Cayman Islands and French Guiana. Both state workers as well as the government workers are off on Ash Wednesday in regions like Panama and Guadeloupe. Then there are the regional holiday recognized places like Brazil and Cape Verde. In the Unites States, The United Kingdom, Canada and Australia it is merely a locally recognized event. This is still an enigma since millions of people in these countries recognize and celebrate Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday will mark the beginning of the Lent season which will mean a time of fasting and a lot of prayer. This is the entire prelude to Easter Sunday where Christians seek to be prepared for the upcoming baptism reaffirmation. This prelude is a time meant to reflect our choices and directions in life, and how those directions can be rerouted back towards our Lord and Savior.

 

The History of Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is a day kicking off the Christian holiday season; it is the day that recognizes the beginning of Lent. Ashes are applied to believer’s foreheads. The cross is a symbol of repentance.

The day of ashes came about long before there were ever records to mark the events. Some early writings date back to the year 955. These ceremonies are also referred to in The Holy Bible. Old Testament books tell us that these ashes symbolize mortality and humanity. Sin and repentance is also recognized within the symbol. Matthew, Daniel and job hold such scriptures.

The Anglo Saxton churches practiced the Day of Ashes in the 10th century while it was made a custom across the globe by the Western Churches in 1091. In the beginning the receiving of the ashes proved a private devotion as well as penance. This is a very symbolistic and cherished event for Christians. The Holy Bible scriptures are proof that this has been a ceremony recognized by believer’s sense Christianity began.

It is said that the law of ancient days is very similar to today’s beliefs and laws. It is simply uncanny that this devout ceremony though highly cherished and recognized holds so little information on its actual origins. It is known only that it is one of Christianity’s oldest ceremonies still being practiced to date. Though there is biblical reference to the ceremony it is not recognized to actually have been originated until the 8th century.

Both then and now the cross is a symbol representing the seal of baptism that is placed on the forehead by a minister or priest. It also signifies humanity and sacrifice as well as repentance. Believers will wear their ashes throughout the day to enhance a renewal of the spirit. They are seeking forgiveness for the sins of the flesh. It is a very sincere show of their faith.

Ash Wednesday is a very moving event that Christians across the globe will unite to celebrate and attend. The following 40 days leading up to Easter is equally as important to their faith.  It is all working together for a pursuit of peace. It signifies the pursuit to a higher connection with the Lord. The ceremony reminds believers to put at bay sinful human nature and seek forgiveness for the sins that have been committed. This is an occasion that has been, is and always will be the same in essence.