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Why We Celebrate Ash Wednesday

Jul 22, 2008
This year to celebrate the start of lent try sending free e-cards to friends and family. They are a great way of reminding people about things, and also celebrating events. My favorite thing about them is that they are totally free, and that you can send them across the globe and they will still arrive instantly.

Ash Wednesday marks the official start of Lent, a period of forty days which is symbolic of Jesus Christ's forty day fast in the desert, during which devout Christians perform deeds of spiritual cleansing and penitence preceding the major festival of Easter.

A day of religious obligation, church worship and the receipt of the sacramental ashes for which the holiday is named, the holiday is the beginning of the fasting, praying, and giving of alms which characterizes Lent. This is done in preparation for receiving the supreme gift: Christ's ultimate sacrifice, his voluntary crucifixion.

This feat of dedication and purification, along with his miraculous resurrection, and its significance as the salvation of his followers, are the themes of prayer and intense contemplation.

The fast originally lasted forty hours in keeping with how long Christ was entombed, but over the centuries, as Christianity spread, the length of the season grew to Holy Week, then was extended to 36 days, or a tenth of the year, and the last addition was made with the establishment of Ash Wednesday and the three days that follow. Sundays are not counted as part of the forty days of Lent because they are already celebrated as the Lord's Day.

This holiday's dominant tradition is being marked by ashes as an outward sign of your repentance. This practice originated because early Christians who had committed serious sins were forced to do public penance, and one of the ways of singling those offenders out was to sprinkle ashes on the clothing made and worn specifically during the Lent season.

After receiving their ashen garments, they would not reappear in church until after they had passed the required 40 days atoning, ruminating, and imploring forgiveness for their transgressions.

The ceremonial ashes were historically and continue to be made of the consecrated palm leaves used during the previous year's Palm Sunday services. Many Christians worship and go through the ritual of the ashes on this day, as well as sacrifice some aspect of their daily life to demonstrate their devotion to God, their preparation for their own redemption, and to bring themselves closer to God by eliminating a distraction.

For some, this means a refusal of television or movies for the length of the season, for others certain foods, and for others still, activities that interfere with their devotion, such as athletic clubs, or other forms of social interaction.

Way over ten million e-cards are sent each year, and they can cover nearly any genre or event you want. They are environmentally friendly, and are gradually starting to take over the whole card market. Free e-cards sure will make your life that bit easier.
About the Author
Andrew Gibson is MD of Greeting-Cards.com. It has thousands of free ecards to choose from for birthdays and all occasions. Many people now send Free e-cards to celebrate Ash Wednesday and select them from http://www.Greeting-Cards.com
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