New Orleans Swamp Tours Blog Post 2-10-2016
Whew!!! Mardi Gras is officially over as of this morning at midnight. Now all of the Catholics in New Orleans begin a special Lenten season beginning today with Ash Wednesday.
Black crosses will mark the foreheads of many Christians on Feb. 10, signifying the start of the Lenten season. It’s all part of Ash Wednesday. Learn more about the religious day, from the symbolism behind the black crosses to its history, in this brief primer.
What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season, a period of 40-some days focused on spiritual purification and repentance. It is a day of fasting for Catholic and Anglican churches. Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of the distribution of ashes upon the foreheads of Christians.
Wondering what to give up for Lent? How about what the rules are for the holiday? Learn all about Lent, from its history to when it ends, in this post.
What do the black marks mean?
Those black marks are meant to be crosses, although as the day wears on they can look like black smudges. They are a mixture of ashes, Holy Water and, sometimes, olive oil. The ashes come from the palms used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday, the Sunday before that marks Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem where he was met with palm branches by believers. It’s especially significant, because Jesus was greeted in Jerusalem as a hero and the Messiah by the mob and he would eventually be put to death by the hands of the Romans at the insistence of those people.
The ashes are meant to remind Christians about human mortality, while also showing the individual’s desire for repentance and mourning of their own sins. As the priest or minister puts the ash on the body he, or she, says “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return” (Genesis 3:19) or “Repent, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Christians are encouraged to wear the ashes, which can be distributed on either their forehead or hand, until the ashes wear off as a public declaration of their faith.
What about that day of fasting business?
According to Catholic doctrine, believers between 18 and 59 in good health can choose to consume just one full meal on that day, or two smaller meals. Fasting as depicted in the Bible is to be done discreetly, so as not to draw attention to the person fasting. Fasting is not about showing off, instead it is a deeply personal endeavor and is to be between God and the person fasting only.
Going to be lots of Crawfish Boils, Fried Fish, and Gumbos on Friday’s for the next few weeks!
Hope to see everyone soon.