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Friday, May 25 2018 @ 06:42 AM EDT

Ash Wednesday - Start of Lent in Panama

History & Reference For the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days (forty days not counting Sundays) before Easter. It is a moveable fast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter. It can occur as early as 4 February or as late as 10 March. Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the minister who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his or her own forehead and then on those of congregants. The minister recites the words: "Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return", or "Repent, and believe the Gospel." Lent, in Christian tradition, is the period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Conventionally, it is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. The forty days represent the time that, according to the Bible, Jesus spent in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan. This practice was virtually universal in Christendom until the Protestant Reformation. Some Protestant churches do not observe Lent, but many, such as Lutherans, Methodists, and Anglicans do. (Source: Wikipedia)

Editor's Comment: So, Carnival is five days of "getting it out of your system" so you can be relatively purged by the time Easter and Holy Week come around. Today marks the start of Lent. After awhile you become accustomed to the ebbs and flows of the Panamanian party calendar. Next up - taking a few days off at the beach during Holy Week, and drinking all of the booze you had stashed in the house so that no one can see you... One more thing - the thousands of Panamanian women who are now pregnant thanks to Carnival (although they don't know it yet) will give birth during the last week of November 2010, so it becomes harder to keep your employees at work during that time. Have I been in Panama too long?

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