Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of Lent. I have just copied that first sentence from the post I wrote last year, “Things to do in Lent”, and am tempted to copy the whole piece and just change the references to specific dates and seasons.
In 2016 Ash Wednesday fell on 10 February, 21 days earlier than this year. It was still winter. 1 March feels more symbolic, a new month as well as a new season in the church’s year. Some people believe that today is the first day of spring. Chris Evans has been going on about it all week on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show.
I was wondering how many times Ash Wednesday has fallen on 1 March during my lifetime, and have just spent 20 minutes formatting an up-to-date spreadsheet with the answers.. As with my musings about years and prime numbers (“2017 is a prime number”) I have worked these things out, so you don’t have to.
Ash Wednesday is (or was) celebrated on 1 March every 11 years between 1995 and 2028, i.e. 1995, 2006, 2017 and 2028. The last time before 1995 was 1 March 1933. The next time it will happen, after 2028, is 2090. Even if I live past 120 I might not be around for that one. My children, all being well, will be in their 80s.
This year the half-way point in Lent will be Friday 24 March, after the Equinox. The days will be longer than the nights. By Easter Sunday (16 April) here in London sunset will be just before 8pm, at 19:59. Although I use spreadsheets for date calculations I rely on the excellent timeanddate.com site for times of sunrise and sunset, and to tell me when the next full moon is (Sunday 12 March, for the record).