Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Latest News News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology Videos World
Why Does The Eastern Church Celebrate Ash Monday and Not Ash Wednesday?


Many are the differences that distinguish Eastern and Western cultures, like food, habits, politics, and of course religion. A very interesting difference between these two worlds is the celebration of Ash day. Eastern Churches celebrate Ash Monday whereas Western churches celebrate Ash Wednesday, why is the same ritual celebrated on two different days? What is the reason the Eastern Church celebrates Pure Monday and not Ash Wednesday? Let’s first find out who all come under the Eastern church and their beliefs.


According to membership of the people in their respective Church, the six largest Eastern Catholic Churches are the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC Byzantine Rite), the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (East Syriac Rite), the Maronite Church (West Syriac Rite), the Melkite Greek Catholic Church (Byzantine Rite), Chaldean Catholic Church (East Syriac Rite), and the Armenian Catholic Church (Armenian Rite). Whereas Latin is considered as Western Catholic Church. 

As I am a part of Syro-Malabar, in the past, I often had this doubt ‘why do we celebrate Ash Monday and not Ash Wednesday ?’ However, my Parish Priest soon gave me an answer, explaining that  Ash Monday is an ancient tradition of the Syro-Malabar Church. Between the 17th - 20th centuries they used to celebrate Ash Wednesday through the influence of the Latin Church. Successively, the Second Vatican Council ( headed by Saint John  XXII from 1962 - 1965) advised all the Eastern Rites to return to their traditional rules, a Church that is universal with diverse cultures and traditions united in faith. Thus Syro-Malabar started observing Ash Monday again. 


To understand this let us know about the Syro-Malabar liturgical calendar.

 The Syro-Malabar church is based in Kerala, India. And they have their liturgical calendar, which is divided into 9 seasons throughout the year: 1) Annunciation (Mangalavartha Kalam), 2)Nativity(Piravithirunnal), 3)Epiphany(Denahaa Kalam), 4)Great Fast (Nombu Kalam), 5)Resurrection (Uyirppu Kalam), 6)Apostles (Sleeha Kalam), 7)Summer (Kaitha Kalam), 8)Elijah-Cross-Moses (Eliya-Sleevaa-Moosha Kalam), and 9)Dedication of the Church (Pallikoodhaashaa Kalam). So according to the liturgical calendar, the fourth season of Nombu Kalam consists of  50 days, and we refer to Lent as Anpathu Nombu, which is fifty days of fasting.


The preparation for Nombu (Lent) starts from the feast Pethratha, the Sunday before Ash Monday. Therefore, the reason why in Eastern countries people celebrate Ash Monday instead of Wednesday is that they have to fast for 50 days before Easter.

But here comes another question. Even if it is seen in the Bible that Jesus undertook 40 days of fasting, why is the Eastern Church taking 50 days of fasting? 

To answer that question we have to look at the teachings of  Sabha, where it is said that feast Pethratha means looking back to one's own life. The day after Pethratha comes the right of ashes, that is Ash Monday, when the fast begins.

Therefore, the seven weeks of the season of lent which starts with Pethratha Sunday comprise 49 days. Easter Sunday, which is the 50th day, is seen as the culmination day of this period. Thus St Thomas Christian has seen this period as Anpathu Nombu. 


Crucially, it is valuable to know that we don't fast on all these fifty days, during these fifty days, Pethratha and Easter Sunday are considered feasts, and no one starves oneself on the feast, right? So the remaining 48 days we fast and abstain oneself from sin. My Parish Priest mentioned another interesting thought about Nombu, he said during lent we have to do fasting and abstinence, and many believe they both are the same. However, abstinence means restricting oneself from doing, eating, or watching something you love the most. (In my case I am redistricting myself from social media and non-veg, my weakness!) And fasting means only eating one time a day, in Malayalam, it is said as ‘Oru Neram’ thus, no one fasts on Sundays as it is considered Lord’s Day. However, one abstains from doing what one loves the most.


And thus with diverse cultures and traditions, the Catholic Church has come so far, strong and united. However, we members of the Church often find minor mistakes in our Heads to question our faith. Just as different methods of celebrating the remembrance of the words from the Bible; “You are dust, and to dust, you shall return.” (Gen 3:19) We celebrate Ash Day to recollect that we are nothing but dust and one day we all will turn into dust. Thus this season is a reminder to help and love others, and restrict ourselves from sin.

Share This Post On

Tags: religion culture lifestyle

1 comment

1 month ago by Alanna_Full

God Bless You

Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in is a Global Media House Initiative by Socialnetic Infotainment Private Limited.

TheSocialTalks was founded in 2020 as an alternative to mainstream media which is fraught with misinformation, disinformation and propaganda. We have a strong dedication to publishing authentic news that abides by the principles and ethics of journalism. We are an organisation driven by a passion for truth and justice in society.

Our team of journalists and editors from all over the world work relentlessly to deliver real stories affecting our society. To keep our operations running, We need sponsors and subscribers to our news portal. Kindly sponsor or subscribe to make it possible for us to give free access to our portal and it will help writers and our cause. It will go a long way in running our operations and publishing real news and stories about issues affecting us.

Your contributions help us to expand our organisation, making our news accessible to more everyone and deepening our impact on the media.

Support fearless and fair journalism today.