Ash Wednesday Tradition

After the Gras, it’s time to mark Ash Wednesday

Just 24 hours ago, you were so alive! Now you're in church, remembering your mortality and getting your ashes on Wednesday.

by Mary Staes | March 1, 2019

One day you’re yelling for the biggest beads you can possibly fit around your neck, the next you’re at church, praying for forgiveness and a quick remedy to the pounding headache you’ve got.

So it goes here in New Orleans, every year. Every single Carnival season, we try to outdo the last.

“Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint,” they said. “Go to parades in the rain!” they said. “It’ll all be fun!” they said.

Even on Wednesday, life isn’t back to normal. You’ll go to work, sluggish, wondering why any group of people would decide to have a holiday on a TUESDAY, and why the rest of the nation doesn’t understand. Every time you look up, someone in the room will have that cross on their head. The cross that reminds you that one day, you’ll die, and to dust, you shall return. Just 12 hours ago, you were so alive!

Ash Wednesday immediately follows Fat Tuesday, and is the beginning of the Lent season. Christians take time to reflect on sacrifice during Lent, and most fast on Fridays or abstain from meat. It’s also a day of repentance from sin. In essence, it is the exact opposite of Mardi Gras.

You’ve got options. Maybe you’re short on time, so you’ve got to do drive-thru ashes. Maybe you can spare a half-hour and attend Mass at a church close to you. Either way, you’ll definitely be the odd man out if you don’t get them.

You’ll get on your teleconference with your coworkers in New York, who won’t be tired at all, and who also won’t have a black smudge on his or her forehead. They’ll be confused, and that’s fine. It’s like a badge, the visible signs of being a New Orleanian, and we wear it with pride.

Mary Staes

Mary Staes

Mary Staes is Digital Content Lead for Very Local. She works with our freelancers and crafts content for our social media platforms and website. Before Very Local, she worked with CBS affiliate WWL-TV as a web producer and weekend assignment editor for about 4 years. She has also handled broadcast coverage for 160 Marine Reserve training facilities while she served as an active duty Marine. As a native New Orleanian, she takes being "very local" to heart. She loves being intertwined with the culture and figuring out how there are less than two degrees of separation between us all, whether we're natives or not.

Download the Very Local app to stream all of the Very Local original series for FREE!

Download the Very Local app to stream all of the Very Local original series for FREE!