Western and Eastern Christians begin Lent on March 2 and March 7 in 2022

Man putting ashes on woman's forehead

Receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday. Photo by John Ragai, courtesy of Flickr

Western Christians Mark Ash Wednesday on March 2, 2022

In the Western church, Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and prayer. During a liturgy marking the day, a church leader typically swipes the ashes into the shape of a cross on the recipient’s forehead. Rather than wash the ashes, recipients are supposed to let the ashes wear off throughout the remainder of the day as part of their spiritual reflections.

2022 update: Once again this year, many churches are offering alternatives to the typical Ash Wednesday services. Some are offering the application of ashes on the forehead via a cotton applicator, while others are offering DIY ashes. Check with your local congregation for details.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke detail the story of Jesus spending 40 days fasting in the desert, where he is repeatedly tempted by Satan; similarly, Lent marks 40 days—not counting Sundays.

Eastern Orthodox Christians Mark Clean Monday on March 7, 2022

Eastern Orthodox Christians start Great Lent on March 7, this year. “Clean Monday” is the start of the fasting period for Eastern Christians that prohibits meat, dairy and various other foods. Clean Monday—a public holiday in Greece—is commemorated with outdoor picnics, kite flying and shared family meals.

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