To well appropriate Ash Wednesday is to keep in memory the words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return…Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
The name, Ash Wednesday was derived from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches the preceding year’s Palm Sunday and placing them on the heads of participants by sprinkling on heads or as a Cross sign on the forehead.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in Western Christianity. It occurs 46 days (40 fasting days, if the six Sundays, which are not days of fast are excluded because every Sunday was seen as a commemoration of the Sunday of Christ’s resurrection and so as a feast day on which fasting was inappropriate.) before Easter. Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance. Besides showing sorrow for their sins, those who honor Ash Wednesday add an additional meaning; the need to prepare for a holy death. Many Western Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and some Baptists observed this day.
Ash Wednesday was accepted into the beliefs of the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The council also settled upon the 40-day fast period as the standard length to celebrate Lent. During this time period Constantine’s goal was to combine pagans and Christians into a peaceable unit within the Roman kingdom.
Even after the Council of Nicaea the beginning start date of Lent was still questioned. In 601 Pope Gregory moved the beginning of Lent from the fourth Sunday of the year to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter. Pope Gregory also instituted the tradition of marking parishioners forehead’s with ashes in the shape of a cross.
Those who attend such Catholic services, whether in a church or elsewhere, traditionally take blessed ashes home with them to place on the heads of other members of the family.
Most Pentecostals and Charismatics anyway do not believe in the idea of Ash Wednesday. 2018 Ash Wednesday holds February 14 (which happens to be Valentine’s Day), 2019 – March 6, 2020 – Febuary 26.
Romans 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (KJV)