As Haiti is predominantly a Roman Catholic country, Ash Wednesday is a major holiday that people take note of every year. It is the first day of Lent, a period of fasting and prayer that is supposed to last 40 days, ending with the arrival of Easter.
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While the date of Ash Wednesday changes from year to year, it cannot be earlier than 4 February or later than 10 March. Ash Wednesday is conspicuous because it follows immediately the Carnival celebrations, which stand in stark contrast with it.
Since meat is traditionally abstained from during Lent, Ash Wednesday will find many families dining on fish dishes and other non-meat foods. Many will gather with family to enjoy a delicious, but meatless, feast. Some will attend a special mass, and others will simply spend the day recovering from Carnival and resting up so they can return to work as usual.
The reason the day is called Ash Wednesday is that it is customary for people to have a cross of ashes drawn on their forehead by a local priest on this day. This was supposed to remind them to abstain from sin and to remember that they are but dust and shall return to dust. Lent is designed to recall and partially mimic the 40-day fast of Jesus in the wilderness just before he commenced His three-year Earthly ministry.