Ash Wednesday observed March 1
The day after Fat Tuesday in the United States, Carnevale in Italy and Fasching in Germany — celebrations known for extravagant masks, lively parades, wild parties and overindulgence — is a time of somber reflection for Western Christians around the world. As the confetti is swept from the streets, churchgoers kneel at altars to be cleansed by holy cinders. The symbol of the cross is drawn on foreheads with ash to remind believers of salvation and mortality. “From ashes to ashes, from dust to dust.”
Even though Ash Wednesday is not a federal holiday, it is observed by many European countries, including regions of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, Spain and Switzerland. Businesses may be closed, so workers can attend religious services, catch up on rest at home or spend time with family and friends.
This year, Ash Wednesday falls on March 1. Plan ahead to avoid any unexpected kinks in your itinerary due to the religious holiday.