Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent and is the first of the forty days of Lent leading up to Easter.
The celebration of Ash Wednesday was introduced in the seventh century to ensure Lent consisted of 40 days exactly. The forty days refer to the time Jesus spent in the desert after being baptised in the Jordan by John and before beginning his public ministry.
The ashes used in the liturgy on Ash Wednesday are traditionally made from the palms used on Palm Sunday the previous year. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence. Abstinence from eating meat applies to everyone age 14 and above. Fasting applies to everyone age 18-59.
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