Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, the BIG Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans, and elsewhere. Parades, parties, food, beverages, and general hilarity will abound. The next day is the Big Reality Check of Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. This is the day that people of the Christian faith will go to church, at lunch, or in the evening, and have a cross of ashes smeared upon their foreheads. Why do we do this? According to the United Methodist Church
In “A Service for Worship for Ash Wednesday” in the United Methodist Book of Worship, two suggestions of what worship leaders may say as they make the sign of the cross on another’s forehead are offered: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” and “Repent, and believe the gospel.” Each points to an aspect of what the ashes represent.
Lent is observed the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday/Passover, right before Easter. This year, Lent begins February 26th, with Easter this year on April 12th. Sundays aren’t added into Lent, but for some, Lent is daily until Easter Morning.
Many Christian churches also observe refraining from a favorite food, beverage, event, or practice. I have a friend who gives up meat. Another gives up chocolate. And so on. Why do we ‘give up things’ for Lent, anyway? I googled it.
In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the account of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for 40 days; this is known as one’s Lenten sacrifice.