Everything you need to know about why we observe the first day of Lent when we do
How is it calculated? I’m glad you asked.
According to the norms established by the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) and later adopted for Western Christianity at the Synod of Whitby, Easter Sunday falls each year on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This year the vernal equinox falls on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 and the first full moon after that occurs on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Therefore, Easter Sunday is celebrated this year on April 1. If you want Ash Wednesday, just count backwards 46 days and you get February 14, 2018 (Valentine’s Day).
But why 46? I thought Lent was the season of “40 days” in the desert. What’s the deal?
The six Sundays in Lent are not considered part of the official “Lenten fast” (every Sunday is a special remembrance of the Resurrection of Christ), and so if you subtract six from 46, you get the famous 40 days of Lent.
There you have it. That is why this year Ash Wednesday is on February 14.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?