Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

noun
the first day of Lent.

Origin:
1250–1300

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World English Dictionary
Ash Wednesday
 
n
the first day of Lent, named from the practice of Christians of placing ashes on their heads as a sign of penitence

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Cultural Dictionary

Ash Wednesday definition


The seventh Wednesday before Easter; the first day of Lent for most Christians; the day after “Fat Tuesday,” or Mardi Gras. It is frequently observed as a day of fasting and repentance for sin. In some churches, ashes are placed on the foreheads of worshipers on Ash Wednesday as a reminder of their mortality. The words of God to Adam in the Bible are often used in the ceremony: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

ash wednesday

in the Christian church, the first day of Lent, occurring 6 12 weeks before Easter (between February 4 and March 11, depending on the date of Easter). In the early Christian church, the length of the Lenten celebration varied, but eventually it began 6 weeks (42 days) before Easter. This provided only 36 days of fast (excluding Sundays). In the 7th century, 4 days were added before the first Sunday in Lent in order to establish 40 fasting days, in imitation of Jesus Christ's fast in the desert.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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