The Philippines, being a predominantly Catholic country, will observe Ash Wednesday today, March 5. In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Based on the canonical Gospels in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday signals the start of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting or abstinence. It can be noted that Ash Wednesday is Day 1 and Palm Sunday is Day 40.
|Image Credit: InterAksyon|
On Ash Wednesday, the Catholic faithful attend a Holy Mass and wait for the priest to place ashes on their foreheads. The ashes are said to be a reminder of human mortality and a symbol of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are gathered mainly from the burning of the palms (palaspas in Tagalog) from the previous year's Palm Sunday. Ash Wednesday is observed not only by Catholics, but also by adherents of other Christian denominations.