Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ash Wednesday - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days before Easter. It falls on different dates from year to year, according to the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10. Ash Wednesday can fall on Leap Day only during a leap year for which April 15 is Easter Sunday. The next time Ash Wednesday will fall on Leap Day will be in 2096, the first such year since the 1582 adoption of the Gregorian Calendar.

At Masses and services of worship on this day, worshippers are blessed with ashes by the celebrating priest or minister. The priest or minister marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes, in the shape of a cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until washing it off after sundown. In many Christian churches, the minister of ashes may also be a layperson or non-clergyman. The symbolism echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ash over one's head signifying repentance before God"

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