Origin of the Ashes of Ash Wednesday Explained

February 24, 2001

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On February 24, 2001, The Houston Chronicle reported that, "Traditionally, the ashes that will mark the foreheads of ...Catholic and Protestant believers are made from burned palms - often the very palms used in the previous year's Palm Sunday observances...On Palm Sunday, celebrated the week before Easter, the palms represent the ones that residents of Jerusalem are said to have waved as Jesus entered the city." The palms are a symbol of hope, their ashes a symbol of death and a reminder of our mortality. One Episcopal dean said that "even those who are usually distant from church will arrive for Ash Wednesday, drawn there by the symbolism of the ashes."