Tag Archives: fasting

Ash Wednesday

In 2013, Ash Wednesday falls on February 13!

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holiday that marks the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days prior to Easter Sunday (which falls on March 31 this year). Lent is the period of preparation for the resurrection of Christ, and provides Christians with a time for self-examination.

Usually, practicing Christians choose something that they enjoy to “give up” for lent; it could be a particular favorite food, alcohol, caffeine, etc. This exercise allows people to give up a vice of theirs and in turn become closer to God. Another option is for a person to give up something that occupies too much of their time, such as TV. The idea is to then use that extra time to study the Bible, pray, volunteer, or do some other activity that helps others or deepens their faith.

On Ash Wednesday, it is common for Christians to attend church services in which a priest marks their forehead with black ashes in the shape of a cross. The ashes are usually blessed, and are reserved for the “foreheads of the faithful,” who don the ashes until they wear off. Ash Wednesday is also a fasting holiday, in which Christians are asked to abstain from meat.

Sources: Wikipedia

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Ramadan, the ninth month of the 12-month Islamic lunar calendar, begins today. A month of fasting, reflection, prayer and spiritual growth, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims.

What is Ramadan?

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, but it’s more than just not eating and drinking. Muslims must also refrain from smoking, sexual activity, impure thoughts and words and immoral behavior. Ramadan is a time for prayer and reflection, to practice self-sacrifice and self-restraint and to purify both the soul and the body. During Ramadan, Muslims eat a small meal before dawn and break their fast by eating a date after dusk and enjoying an elaborate feast with friends and family. A lot of time is also spent reading the entire Qur’an, praying and attending mosques.

When is Ramadan?

Ramadan begins on a different day each year. In 2012, Ramadan and fasting begin on July 20.

Find out more about Islam and Ramadan at history.com.

Learn more about Ramadan, fasting, the Qur’an and other Ramadan traditions.

Sources: history.com, islam.about.com
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