Ash Wednesday is a very important day in the Christian calendar. On this day all over the world; the foreheads of Christian worshipers will be anointed with the ash made from palm leaves which were burned at the previous year's ceremony. The palm leaves are symbolic of the palms thrown in celebration of the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Ash Wednesday also marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities.
Typically we choose to give up one thing that we enjoy. It is symbolic of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Many people nowadays use Lent as a good way to remove something 'unhealthy' from their diet; for example they may give up sugar, or fizzy drinks. They may on the other hand choose to omit a behaviour such as not using their mobile devices after dinner, or stopping use of social media.
This year we celebrate Ash Wednesday with a service at lunchtime for both students and staff in our Chapel (pictured).