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Ash Wednesday Observed With Solemn Devotion

For many, Ash Wednesday is just the day after Mardis Gras. For these people, there’s nothing big about the day except for maybe a headache from the night before. But as KSMU’s Adam Hammons reports, Ash Wednesday is observed by others with solemn devotion.

Mardis Gras to many people is a day of celebration, particularly in the city of New Orleans. However, for Catholics and many protestants, it’s the day before Ash Wednesday, starting the 40 days leading up to Easter. According to Petra Salgado with the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Springfield, Mardis Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," is not a part of the Catholic Church. The day after, known as "Ash Wednesday," is. “The whole community around the world celebrates this day. This is a very solemn day that we have mandated through the pope.”Salgado says church members put a cross of ashes on their foreheads to remind them of their mortality. She also says they have a meal of soup, bread, and salad in remembrance of a fast by Jesus as recorded in the Bible. “It reminds us that we make sacrifices and we pray and we give alms. This is a time that people donate to the poor and it’s a sacrifice that you offer to the church, to god.”John Schmalzbauer, an MSU religious studies professor, says Protestants have also started to celebrate Ash Wednesday. “Some Protestants are from traditions that have only recently started to embrace the season of Lent and Ash Wednesday, and are starting to perhaps even use rituals that formally were more common among Catholics.”Schmalzbauer says he does not know for sure why this has happened, but he says there has been more contact between the religions, which has led to borrowing of certain traditions. People observing Lent, or the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter, will often give up something for that period of time. This could be something as big as not eating meats to something as small as not eating pizza or chocolate.For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.