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Ash Wednesday in Canada

Many Christians in Canada mark Ash Wednesday as the first day of Lent. It is the beginning of the Lenten fast and is the day after Shrove Tuesday.

Is Ash Wednesday a Public Holiday?

Ash Wednesday is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Ash is often used to mark people's foreheads on Ash Wednesday.
Ash is often used to mark people's foreheads on Ash Wednesday.
©iStockphoto.com/Ben Beltman

What Do People Do?

Many churches in Canada hold special Ash Wednesday services for their congregations. It is a time when people who seek penitence for their wrongdoings are marked with the sign of the cross, from blessed ashes, on their forehead. This symbolic occasion reminds people of their mortality and sorrow for sins, as well as the will for change and the hope of forgiveness.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lenten discipline for many Christian churches. It is traditionally a time of fasting and prayer as part or preparations for Easter when they are ready to receive or reaffirm their baptism. For some Christians, Lent is a time to think about life and death, as well as reflect on life’s choices and possible life directions.

Ash Wednesday serves as a wakeup call for some Christians. It is also a time of goodwill for many people. There are also those who chose 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 not a national public holiday in Canada.

Background and Symbols

The practice of marking foreheads with ashes was common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and some other churches in Canada but it is now practiced in various other Christian denominations. 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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010WedFeb 17Ash WednesdayChristian 
2011WedMar 9Ash WednesdayChristian 
2012WedFeb 22Ash WednesdayChristian 
2013WedFeb 13Ash WednesdayChristian 
2014WedMar 5Ash WednesdayChristian 
2015WedFeb 18Ash WednesdayChristian 
2016WedFeb 10Ash WednesdayChristian 
2017WedMar 1Ash WednesdayChristian 
2018WedFeb 14Ash WednesdayChristian 
2019WedMar 6Ash WednesdayChristian 
2020WedFeb 26Ash WednesdayChristian 

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