Home > Calendar > Holidays > United States > Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday in United States

Many Christian Americans mark Ash Wednesday as the first day of Lent. It follows Shrove Tuesday, which features Mardi Gras celebrations.

Ash is an important symbol of Ash Wednesday in many Christian churches.
Ash is an important symbol of Ash Wednesday in many Christian churches.
©iStockphoto.com/Ben Beltman

What do people do?

Some Christians in the United States attend special Ash Wednesday church services. This includes students who attend Catholic and other church schools. Priests usually place blessed ashes in form of the cross on individuals’ foreheads to remind them of mortality, sorrow for sins, change, and forgiveness.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lenten discipline for observant Christians. It is traditionally a time of fasting and prayer in preparation for receiving or reaffirming baptism at Easter. For some Christians, Lent is a time to think about one’s life choices and mortality, as well as reflect on life directions. It serves as a wakeup call for some Christians. There are also those who choose this time of the year to donate to charities or take part in charity events as a way to get close to God.

Public life

Ash Wednesday is an observance and not a federal public holiday in the United States.

Background and Symbols

The practice of marking foreheads with ashes is common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and Episcopalians in the United States. However some Methodist and Presbyterian churches adopted this custom in recent times, especially around the 1990s. A general article about Ash Wednesday worldwide covers more information about its background and symbols.

About Ash Wednesday in other countries

Read more about Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
WedFeb 281990Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 131991Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 41992Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 241993Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 161994Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 11995Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 211996Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 121997Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 251998Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 171999Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 82000Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 282001Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 132002Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 52003Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 252004Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 92005Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 12006Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 212007Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 62008Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 252009Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 172010Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 92011Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 222012Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 132013Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 52014Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 182015Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 102016Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 12017Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 142018Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedMar 62019Ash WednesdayChristian 
WedFeb 262020Ash WednesdayChristian 

Quick Facts

Ash Wednesday is a Christian observance that marks the first day of Lent, which is prior to Easter.

Ash Wednesday 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Name in other languages

Ash WednesdayEnglish
Miércoles de CenizaSpanish
יום רביעי של האפרHebrew
أربعاء الرمادArabic
재의 수요일Korean
List of dates for other years

Related holiday

Other holidays in February 2015 in United States

Other calendars

Related links