Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically burnt palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday.
In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as "giving up" certain luxuries in order to "replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days." Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God.
The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ's carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches remove flowers from their altars, while crucifixes, religious statues, and other elaborate religious symbols are often veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event. Throughout Christendom, some adherents mark the season with the traditional abstention from the consumption of meat, most notably among Roman Catholics.
Ash Wednesday occurs 46 days before Easter. The day falls on a different date each year because Easter also occurs on different dates.
Why is it considered so important in the life of local Christians?
Essentially it mirrors the period Jesus spent in the desert before commencing his ministry. For many people from most religious traditions, periods of prayer, fasting and quiet meditation are an essential aspect of their faith life.
Contrary to some uninformed assertions Shrove Tuesday does not mark the start of Lent.
Shrove Tuesday is the last day of the liturgical season historically known as Shrovetide, before the penitential season of Lent, related popular practices, such as indulging in food that one sacrifices for the upcoming forty days, are associated with Shrove Tuesday celebrations, before commencing the fasting and religious obligations associated with Lent.
Favoured with fine weather, the party, which numbered 57, left Wigan Station for Southport, where Charabancs were waiting to convey them their destination. Arriving at the Grapes Hotel the party betook themselves to various recreations, for be it understood that plan had been made out both for the ladies and the gentlemen, in the shape of bowling matches, which were eagerly contested.
Tea was announced 5.30 pm and after a sumptuous meal, the president (Mr Councillor Ed. Dickinson) presented the prizes to the respective winners. A vote of thanks to the president brought the Freahfield portion of the day's programme to an end.
Charabancs were again mounted, the party arriving back in Southport about 9 pm the day throughout having been fine, although "King Sol" and "Jupiter Pluvious" had held at times a contest for supremacy, which wound up, as usual, a heavy downpour of rain. Wigan was reached shortly before eleven, this concluding a second pleasurable day with members and their friends of the Wigan and District Pawnbrokers’ Association.
Source: Wigan Observer and District Advertiser - Saturday 06 July 1907
I'd like to imagine that in the early stages of winter 1907 all those involved in the event above were longingly turning their minds to summer Wakes weeks activities. It seems from this report this was the second such picnic event. The first, we must presume, was so successful to justify this one.
One final question springs to my mind. The Charabancs illustrated above are motorised, I wonder whether in the year 1907 they were more likely to be horse-driven.