This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious or spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

February 13th is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

Ash Wednesday

Context

Ash Wednesday occurs 46 days before Easter, and the day marks the beginning of Lent which is a 40-day period (excluding 6 Sundays) of prayer and fasting in anticipation of the Easter holiday.  The practice of placing ashes on foreheads in the shape of a cross serves as a reminder of human mortality and a call to repentance during Lent.  This practice of forehead ash is common in Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and some Baptist denominations.

Significance

Ashes were used in ancient times to express mourning or a symbol of expressing sorrow for one’s sins and faults.  Ash Wednesday is used as a ritual to remind Christians of how God created them, and how Christians depend upon the death of Jesus for reconciliation with God.  The ashes are traditionally blessed by a priest or minister and mixed with holy water or olive oil to form a paste.  The tradition of the ashes is not only a reminder of the value of reflection, penance, and prayer, but they also serve as a ritualistic connection with centuries of Christians who have participated in the practice.

In some cases, congregations gather and are given small cards with the option of writing the sins they have committed and sins committed against them on the card as a sign of their sorrow.  The cards are then collected and burned on the alter as a symbol of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, taking the punishment and burden of sins.

Rituals/Traditions

  1. Attending church services
  2. Fasting
  3. Abstinence from meat (on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and every Friday during Lent)
  4. Confession/repentance of sins
  5. Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) the day before Ash Wednesday
Additional Resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Wednesday

http://www.ashwednesday2013.com/

http://ashwednesdayprayer.com/ash-wednesday-kid-games-ash-wednesday-for-kids-catholic-icing-the-icing-on-your.html

http://www.ulc.org/training-education/guide-to-divinity/24-religious-holidays/207-ash-wednesday/

 

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