While Mardi Gras is rooted in European culture, many American Christians have adopted the tradition as the last big “Hurrah” before lent.
Lent is the period of 40 weekdays in the Christian Church leading up to “Easter Sunday,” a time of abstinence and penitence.
During the first day of Lent, known as “Ash Wednesday” – clergymen make a cross on the foreheads of religious followers with black ash.
In recent years, a number of priests have taken the practice out of the church and to local Metra stations to bring ashes to morning commuters, including those at the Downtown Naperville station.
Ash Wednesday echoes the Middle-Eastern tradition of throwing ashes over one’s head to signify penance in the presence of god.
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