Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Thursday 22 February |
The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
Aleteia logo
Spirituality
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Is Ash Wednesday the earliest it can be this year?

ASH WEDNESDAY

Myriams-Fotos | Pixabay

Philip Kosloski - published on 02/03/24

Ash Wednesday is on February 14 this year, but that is not the earliest date that Lent can begin.

Ash Wednesday is one of the moveable feasts in the Church’s liturgical calendar. It does not have a fixed date, like Christmas, when it is celebrated each year.

How is Ash Wednesday calculated?

Originally Lent wasn’t always 40 days, as it first started out as only a few days of fasting and in some cases, a mere 40 hours of preparation before Easter. Later the Church adopted a tradition of 36 days of fasting, representing a “tenth” of the calendar year.

According to the norms established by the Council of Nicaea (325) 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.

But why 46? I thought Lent commemorated Jesus’ “40 days” in the desert.

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 full 40 days of Lent.

When is the earliest Ash Wednesday could be?

The earliest date Lent can start, counting back from the earliest date of Easter. is February 4, with Easter falling on March 22.

Tags:
EasterLentLiturgy
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

jour1_V2.gif
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.