Did you know it’s the first day of Lent, aka Ash Wednesday? Find out more about why you keep seeing people walking around with smudges on their foreheads today!
1. Ash Wednesday is a day of peace and fasting to kick off Lent: let a technically Catholic writer give you the deets. Lent is the 40 days of repentance many Christians observe before Easter Sunday. It used to be strictly fasting (health allowing them to do so), but now it’s the practice of giving up anything you deem sin-worthy — sugar, swearing, premarital sex, using too much data on your phone, etc. Many of those observing Lent do not eat meat during the 40 days, only consuming fish on Fridays if they choose. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, during which Catholics and Protestants go to church to receive blessed ashes on their foreheads as a sign of that repentance.
The ashes are made from the burnt palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter). A member of the clergy rubs ashes on church members’ foreheads, sometimes in the shape of a cross, while saying either “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Amen. The former phrase is what Adam spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden.
2. but why ashes? It’s all about the Bible, naturally. In ancient times, ashes were used to express grief. Please note that this is about to become a serious downer. in 2 Samuel 13:19, Tamar when was raped by her half-brother “she sprinkled ashes on her head, tore her robe, and with her face buried in her hands went away crying.” Yeesh. In Job 42:3–6, he says to God, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” These are just a couple examples.
3. Where you can receive ashes: just head to your local church, where priests and other clergy members will be ready to dole out ashes. It’s become a more common practice over the past few years for churches to provide “ashes to go” — ashes given out quickly in a line, or even a drive-thru!
4. You may see some of your favorite celebs with ashes on their heads today: there are plenty of celebs in Hollywood who’ve spoken in the past about their Catholic faith, so it’s likely that the biggest accessory today will be forehead ashes. Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Neeson, Selena Gomez, Jimmy Fallon, Fergie, Josh Duhamel, Nicole Sherzinger, Bradley Cooper, Vanessa Hudgens, Tom Brady, Gwen Stefani, Lil Wayne, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, and more have all said that they were either raised Catholic or still practicing, according to Catholic Online.
5. It’s preceded by Shrove Tuesday: Also known as Pancake Day or Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday is basically the last day you can party before Lent begins. In many countries, feasting on pancakes is a must, because it uses up all the leftover rich ingredients you may have in your kitchen before they go to waste.
HollywoodLifers, are you taking part in Ash Wednesday this year? Let us know!