Today Is Ash Wednesday
Many Christian churches in the United Kingdom observe Ash Wednesday as the first day of Lent. It is the day after Shrove Tuesday.
Ash Wednesday in the United Kingdom is a day of penitence to cleanse the soul before fasting during the Lent period. Some Christians may attend special church services to receive the ash in the sign of the cross on their foreheads as a symbol of being sorry and repentant for their wrong doings.
Priests in many churches use the ashes from palms that were burned from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The ashes are mixed with blessed holy water and priests use this special paste by dipping their thumbs in it and using it to make the sign of the cross on individuals’ foreheads. Priests in some churches also mix the ash with anointing oil to remind the congregation of God’s blessings and of baptism.
Some Christians leave the mark of the cross on their foreheads after they leave the church service. This is so that they can carry the sign of the cross into the world. Others may choose to wash the ashes as a sign that they are now spiritually clean and their sins have been wiped away.
The Ash Wednesday date varies each year depending on the Easter date. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox. The Lenten fast lasts for 40 days prior to the Easter period, excluding Sundays.
Ash Wednesday is not a public holiday in the United Kingdom. Many churches may have special Ash Wednesday services.