Ash Wednesday in the United States
Many Christian Americans mark Ash Wednesday as the first day of Lent. It follows Shrove Tuesday, which features Mardi Gras celebrations.
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.
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 countriesRead more about Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday Observances
|Weekday||Date||Year||Name||Holiday Type||Where It is Observed|
|Wed||Feb 17||2010||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Mar 9||2011||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Feb 22||2012||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Feb 13||2013||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Mar 5||2014||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Feb 18||2015||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Feb 10||2016||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Mar 1||2017||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Feb 14||2018||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Mar 6||2019||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
|Wed||Feb 26||2020||Ash Wednesday||Christian|
Quick FactsAsh Wednesday is a Christian observance that marks the first day of Lent, which is prior to Easter.
Ash Wednesday 2016Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Ash Wednesday 2017Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Name in other languages
|Miércoles de Ceniza||Spanish|
|יום רביעי של האפר||Hebrew|
- Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras – Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Other holidays in February 2017 in the United States
- National Freedom Day – Wednesday, February 1, 2017
- Groundhog Day – Thursday, February 2, 2017
- National Wear Red Day – Friday, February 3, 2017
- Rosa Parks Day – Saturday, February 4, 2017
- Tu Bishvat/Tu B'Shevat – Saturday, February 11, 2017
- Lincoln's Birthday – Sunday, February 12, 2017
- Lincoln's Birthday – Monday, February 13, 2017
- Valentine's Day – Tuesday, February 14, 2017
- Susan B Anthony's Birthday – Wednesday, February 15, 2017
- Presidents' Day – Monday, February 20, 2017
- Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras – Tuesday, February 28, 2017