ash wednesday

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.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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