One of my colleagues asked me recently if I knew what Ash Wednesday was? I know that it’s the start of Lent (and the day after Pancake Day) but I had no idea why it was actually called Ash Wednesday, so I did a little bit of research!
Predominantly observered by Western Christians, Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on worshippers' foreheads (often drawn in the shape of a cross), as a sign of repentence. In fact, one of of the earliest links to ashes symbolising repentance can be traced back to The Old Testament and the Book of Job (42:3-6) where Job says to God: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
In the Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday also marks the start of a period of abstinence of a luxury for 40 days, known as Lent, to reflect the 40 days that Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray following his baptism.
In today's society, many non-worshippers also use Lent as an opportunity to cut out something that’s 'bad' for them and lose some weight. But does it work? My guess is probably not! I once tried giving up chocolate for lent and lasted about a day, but, if by some miracle you can abstain from chocolate for 40 whole days, then as soon as those 40 days are over you are more than likely going to want to treat yourself. And by ‘treat yourself’ I mean stuff your face with chocolate until you feel ill!
So instead of giving up your favourite chocolate goodies for 40 days, why don’t you use Lent as an opportunity to take on the 40 day Lent Challenge. For those of you who haven’t heard about it, the Lent Challenge aims to get people to do something nice every day until Easter. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant; it can be as simple as holding the door open for someone, giving up your seat for someone on the bus or just smiling as you walk passed somebody in the street. You could even send someone a chocolate pizza or some of our delicious chocolate cupcakes!
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