It is Ash Wednesday today and for Christians, the day marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting before the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated on Easter. However, this year the tradition to put the ash on the forehead differed from usual due to the coronavirus pandemic. The question was how to get ashes on the foreheads of the parishioners without touching people or violating social-distancing rules, as the risk of spreading COVID-19, has been a challenge this year.
During the Ash Wednesday service, the priest places palm ash on the parishioners forehead by saying “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return’. Keeping in mind the COVID-19 guidlines, catholics this year received ashes sprinkled on their heads.
The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. The tradition of dispensing ashes is a symbol of mortality.
The 40 day period of the lenten season is an incredibly important time for Catholics as it is the period before the resurrection of Jesus that is Easter. During this time catholic Christians fast and sacrifice.
Following Ash Wednesday, other highlights of the Lenten season include:
- Palm Sunday (March 28), which celebrates Jesus’s triumphant entry in Jerusalem.
- Holy Week (March 28-April 3), leading up to Easter Sunday.
- Maundy Thursday (April 1), which commemorates the foot washing and Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles.
- Good Friday (April 2), which commemorates the crucifixion of Christ.
- Easter Sunday (April 4), which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.