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How Is the Date of Ash Wednesday Calculated?

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Ash Wednesday 2008 at Saint Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

A woman prays after receiving ashes on her forehead in observance of Ash Wednesday at Saint Louis Cathedral, February 6, 2008, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Question: How Is the Date of Ash Wednesday Calculated?
The first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, falls on a different date each year. How is the date of Ash Wednesday calculated?
Answer: The date of Ash Wednesday is easily calculated. Simply take the date of Easter (see When Is Easter? to find the date for this and future years) and subtract 46 days.

Why 46? Because, while there are 40 days in Lent, Sundays are not part of Lent. (See How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated? for more information.) There are six Sundays that fall within Lent; thus 40 plus 6 equals 46.

If you would rather not do the calculation yourself, you can simply check out When Is Ash Wednesday? to find the date of Ash Wednesday calculated for you in this and future years.

FAQs on How the Date of Ash Wednesday Is Calculated:

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