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What Determines the Date of Ash Wednesday?

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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: What Determines the Date of Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, falls on a different date each year. What determines the date of Ash Wednesday?
Answer: Two things determine the date of Ash Wednesday. The first is the date of Easter. (See How Is the Date of Easter Calculated? to learn more about what determines the date of Easter.)

The second is the length of Lent. While Lent is 40 days, Sundays are not included in the count. (See How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated? for more information.) There are six Sundays that fall within the 40 days of Lent, so Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, falls 46 days before Easter every year.

See When Is Ash Wednesday? to determine the date of Ash Wednesday in this and future years.

FAQs on What Determines the Date of Ash Wednesday:

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