Ash Wednesday - January 14, 2024

carnival wednesday
Last Updated on: 22 Dec 2022

What is Carnival Wednesday?

For Christians worldwide, Carnival or Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent. The Lent fast officially begins on this day and the day before 

Carnival Wednesday  All Quick Overview

  • Time/Date: 8th May
  • Category: Religious
  • Where It’s Marked? Brazil, Spain, and Venezuela
  • Why It’s Marked? The beginning of fasting was decreed by Pope Gregory the Great (590–604) during Ash Wednesday. To clearly distinguish between joys and penitence, the entire Carnival celebration was planned before the fasting.

History of Carnival Wednesday 

The Carnival Wednesday can perhaps date back to 1200. The term "Carnival" has Christian roots, and priests of the Medieval Era used the word to describe the period that followed the Epiphany season and peaked around midnight of Shrove Tuesday.  

As people fasted from eating meat during the next liturgical season named Lent, food was available in every household during Ash Wednesday. To prepare for Lent, individuals confessed their sins during the final days of Carnival, also known as Shrovetide.

After the winter, a food shortage usually occurs since people can't cultivate crops, and stores are also empty. So, a Carnival banquet was traditionally the last chance to dine well. Carnival is a ritual that reverses social roles and suspends expectations of appropriate behavior from an anthropological perspective.

Christians observe fasting as a way to remember those 40 days when Jesus had to starve in the wilderness. Moreover, it is also the time for Catechumens, or individuals converting to Christianity, when people use the time to prepare for their Easter baptism.

How to Celebrate Carnival Wednesday?

In the Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is a momentous day. It is the start of Lent, fasting, and prayer before Easter. Therefore, you need to observe this day properly. Otherwise, it will feel like any other Wednesday. 

If you read the following section, you will find some meaningful ways to celebrate Ash Wednesday.

  • Perform the act of kindness on this day. Leave a generous tip to your server, donate money to a street musician, or buy a newspaper from the homeless woman at the corner of a busy street. With what god has given you, look for ways to benefit others. 
  • You may need to find United Methodist churches that arrange prayer, confession, singing, pardon, and reciting sermons on Ash Wednesday. The priest will draw a cross on your forehead.
  • Fasting is a way to show that you are giving up your desires to observe Lent. And fasting not only refers to keeping yourself abstain from food only, but it also teaches us to initiate good habits. They can be quit gossiping, showing a kind attitude to our coworkers. 
  • Ash Wednesday is a beautiful day to give to others since it reminds us of our shared humanity. Locate a place to spend the day volunteering if at all possible. You may also provide sandwiches and sports drinks to local street people during your lunch period.
  • Remain calm for a few moments on this day. You can go to church, light candles, and confess whatever is in your mind to God. 
  • Burning something is a custom followed by many Christians on this day. It is believed that while burning paper or wood, you can think that your sins are forgiven, and the rising smoke reaches God carrying your prayers.

Countries that observe Carnival Wednesday 

Ash Wednesday, or Mercredi des Cendres, is a public holiday in French Guiana, the Cayman Islands, Cape Verde, and Jamaica. 

Interesting facts about Carnival Wednesday

You may find Carnival Wednesday a little different than other festivals of Christianity. Although Ash Wednesday arrives right after Mardi Gras (a colorful celebration), the observation of Carnival Wednesday is opposite from the previous holiday. 

 Continue reading to know more:

  • At the time of drawing the cross on the head with Ash, the priest says, “Remember you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.” The quote reminds us to be kind and humble to humans and other animals of the world. 
  • To administer ashes, you wouldn't have to be a church official. Many churches allow their members to take ashes and place them on the foreheads of their relatives or friends absent from the event.  
  • Many Christians refrain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday.
  • In Iceland, people celebrate Ash Wednesday like Halloween with many festive activities. 
  • The ashes are typically 11 months old and are collected on the previous Lent. The priests burn the palm fronds to make ash.
  • Members of many protestant churches usually do not apply ashes on their foreheads.

Unique Carnival Wednesday Celebration Ideas

Wondering how to make your carnival Wednesday more creative and unique apart from the religious activities? Here are some ideas:

  • Meditating on the day of Carnival Wednesday can be an alternating way of receiving ashes. If you cannot attend the mass for prayer, you can sit at a quiet place and pray for forgiveness. 
  • Many churches now arrange online mass observation where you can attend the gathering and prayer from the office or home. Instead of wasting time on trivial things, you can focus on worship. 
  • Although you will not have a public holiday on Ash Wednesday, you may have to observe the day by staying home after a long day at work. If you are staying at home, you can keep yourself away from shopping or eating out. Fast and pray whenever you have time.   

Carnival Wednesday Quotes 

No celebration can go without sending good wishes to your loved ones. You can find the message you want to give your relatives straight from Bible, or you can write on your own.

Also, you can choose one from the list below:

“Happiness is simply a temporary condition that proceeds unhappiness. Fortunately for us, it works the other way around as well. But it’s all part of the carnival, isn't it?”- Federico Fellini

“In this brief transit where the dreams cross the dream-crossed twilight between birth and death, Ash Wednesday.”-  T.S. Eliot

"The real question of the Lenten season is how I will clear out the junk and garbage in my life so that I can be restored to God in some fresh way. What disciplines will open up space for God to create a clean heart and new spirit in me?"- Ruth  Haley Barton

“Lent - remembering to live life graciously, that is, with grace.”- Sr. Marcelline Koch, OP

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”- 1 John, 2:2

“And the Lord said to him, ‘Pass through the city through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations committed in it.”-Ezekiel, 9:4


Why is Carnival before Ash Wednesday?

Pope Gregory the Great ordered his disciples to celebrate carnival before Ash Wednesday. He wanted to make them understand the difference between these two stages of preparation for prayer and celebration.   

Ash Wednesday Observances

2021Sunday17 JanuaryAsh Wednesday
2022Wednesday02 MarchAsh Wednesday
2023Wednesday22 FebruaryAsh Wednesday
2024Sunday14 JanuaryAsh Wednesday
2025Wednesday05 MarchAsh Wednesday
2026Wednesday18 FebruaryAsh Wednesday

We constantly update the dates of holidays that keep changing every year. However, while we revise and change some dates to be accurate, if you find any errors, kindly inform us . That will mean a lot to us.

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