The intricacies of the Christian Church, or at least the western version which treats Easter as a moveable feast, have always left me a little confused. Today is Ash Wednesday and traditionally the start of Lent, that period of abstinence for 46 days up to Easter itself. This was always based upon 40 days of fasting by JC himself - which always led me to wonder why there was a choice of 46 days for the Lenten Period?? Which again brings me to numbers.. and Triskaidekaphobia as well !!!
And the start is of course ash Wednesday. Pre-dating the anti-smoking campaigners by many years, I see a distinct lack of people placing Ash on their foreheads, possibly due to greater numbers of centrally heated houses and equivalent reduction in fireplaces with smoked wood as a ready resource. Ash Wednesday is immediately preceded each year by Shrove Tuesday, a day of "shriving" or absolution, but so much better celebrated as the day we flip the pancakes. Another great religious festival stolen from our ancient and pagan histories.
It was only today, as I discussed this with my sister recently jet-lagged in from America that I finally understood the interconnection of its several parts.... She explained it this way..
"Oh yes!! that was the day that the people rolled the stone back from the mouth of the cave and the Easter Bunnie came out and looked at the Sun, and dependent upon whether it smiled or not, we would have rain on St Swithin's day...."
She may be right - but I still think of this as No Smoking Day....