Ash Wednesday Fasting Traditions Around the World

March 9, 2011

Easter is almost here and with it comes Ash Wednesday fasting, many Fridays without eating meat and the beach in some countries like mine, followed by some spanking on Holy Saturday, but what about other countries, what are the traditions other countries have during the famous Ash Wednesday fasting? Let’s take a break from the sports world a bit, it’s time for you and me to expand our knowledge, I think this will be fun!!!

Ash Wednesday 1

Ash Wednesday fasting or Miercoles de Ceniza y auno in Spanish, is the first day of Lent 46 days before Easter, a Catholic tradition that has been practiced for centuries. I live in El Salvador and here like in many countries in Central America people go to church where the priest puts an ash cross on your forehead. FYI watch it here, sometimes you’ll get some in your eyes. When I was a child the first time I got ashes imposed on my forehead some of it got in my mouth, left a weird taste in my mouth for the entire service. Wondering how I got it inside my mouth? Embarrassing story, but you and I are friends here so here it goes, right before the priest marks your forehead he always said… ‘Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return’, a bible verse found in Genesis 3:19. I didn’t know that and he said so low and fast that I asked Whaaaaaaaaat and then bam! ashes in my mouth, I coughed and almost dropped the ashes from the priest’s hands (major disaster) and kept asking him what did he say, but my sister pushed me and I never knew what he said until it was all over.

Another tradition that is practiced is the fact that you don’t eat any meat that day nor will you do it in for the next several Fridays. I guess that is a rule worldwide, hah?

Countries like Poland where Pope John Paul II was born have delicious treats like paczki, a delicious Polish donut (sort of) filled with strawberry jelly made with butter, sugar and eggs, no paczki during lent!!!

In Ireland, Ash Wednesday is their national no smoking day, in Slovakia it is the mourning period, women would dress in black, they don’t eat meat or any dairy, there are no parties like birthdays, wedding or loud music.

Some people believe that fasting rules apply to people between the ages of 7 and 60 others say it should be from age 14 till death. Pregnant women can be excused, others disagree, people with high cholesterol, diabetes are questionable too. And there is a small group of individuals that by fasting and avoid meat it means no intimate relationships, who came up with that idea? You can read more about Ash Wednesday fasting rules here.

I did mention about spanking on Holy Saturday? Well that is an old belief old people at home have, according to them, they should give a few spanks to the children at home to help them grow very tall, did it work? Nope it didn’t I’m only 1.60 not high enough for the amount of spanks I had.

What is your country’s tradition for Ash Wednesday fasting? Would you like to share a story about this topic?

Ash Wednesday 1 2ash wednesday fasting


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