The meaning of the cross of ashes on Ash Wednesday

The holiday marks the start of a period of reflection and repentance that lasts until Easter.

Wondering why a small dusty cross anoints the foreheads of Christians once a year? They're celebrating Ash Wednesday, which for many also marks the start of Lent, a 40-day period of penance and reflection leading up to Easter. Here's what you need to know about a holiday marked by ash crosses and fasting.

Ash Wednesday always falls on the Wednesday six and a half weeks before Easter, which Christians around the world believe is the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected. (Sundays are not counted in the 40-day period of Lent.) In 2023, Ash Wednesday takes place on February 22.

Eastern and Western churches use different days to mark the start of Lent, however. In the west, Ash

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