“We celebrate Shrove Tuesday by eating a fattening meal like pancakes before giving up the fat for Lent,” said Joe Dunagan, priest director of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Rome.
The day after feasting on delicious pancakes or fattening food, Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. Lent is celebrated to remind Christians that Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert and was tempted by the devil.
Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter and does not include the Sundays during that time period.
The Rev. Greg Lund of Westminster Presbyterian Church says Ash Wednesday cements the Lent season but is very important as a time for Christians to get honest with God.
“Parts of the gospel discuss Jesus’ temptation in the desert and reveal how human he really was and what he gave up,” Lund said. “For me it’s really remarkable to be marked with ashes on the forehead because you literally get to feel the cross and see it when you look in the mirror,” Lund said.
“When you know what the cross represents, you realize what was selflessly given up for you and realize the miracle of grace,” he added.
Lund says Ash Wednesday is also great when kids get to celebrate because they ask questions.
Although the ashes are somewhat distracting and silly to some, Dunagan says it reminds us of the love of God.
“The ashes are just a reminder that we’re just dust. ... It’s a reminder that we’re mortal, and it has to be considered in the light of Easter.”