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Why does Lent begin with ashes?

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As the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday is a time for reflecting on our humanity, sins and mortality.

Take a moment to watch this video from The United Methodist Church* to discover the history and traditions of Ash Wednesday, as well as how you can participate in this holy day of repentance.

If you’d like to learn more, explore Ask The UMC’s information about Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Go deeper by reading the feature stories, “Why Ashes? Connecting to who we are and who we can be” and, “10 ideas for a more meaningful Ash Wednesday.”

Ask The UMC answers other questions about The United Methodist Church and faith-related topics. Check it out.

*For Methodists, observing Ash Wednesday or using ashes on Ash Wednesday is a fairly new practice. John Wesley eliminated Lent altogether for Methodists in 1784. American Methodists had no ritual at all for Ash Wednesday until the 1965 Book of Worship, which many Methodist churches and pastors didn’t have; that service made no provision for the use of ashes. The first time The United Methodist Church had an official ritual for Ash Wednesday was in the 1992 Book of Worship, and the use of ashes is optional.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee. Contact is Joe Iovino.

This video was published on February 17, 2022. is a ministry of United Methodist Communications. For more than 80 years, we have been delivering messages of hope and leading the way in communications ministry. Join us in this vital work by making a tax-deductible donation at

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