NEW ORLEANS, La. – The end of the Carnival Season means the beginning of the Lenten Season for Christians, and many people are already at church for Ash Wednesday.
It is an event that plays out in New Orleans and cities all over the world, every year, but locally it always occurs the day after Mardi Gras.
At St. Louis Cathedral, several people are making their way inside for the 7:30 a.m. mass, during which they will get ashes marked on their foreheads as a symbol of repentance.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and while it is primarily a Catholic practice, other Christian denominations observe the day as well.
The practice started as far back as the biblical days, and at that time practitioners would burn palm trees and use the ashes from the burned palms.
The big question during the Lenten season is what to give up during the period, and while it is encouraged by some denominations, it is not necessarily an obligation.
Some common practices include not eating meat on Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday.
These days people go a little more personal, for example, giving up social media until Easter, or not eating meat altogether, but of course that choice is completely up to the individual.