Ash Wednesday the start of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday and the beginning of Lent. In my old neighborhood, I'd be reminded it was Ash Wednesday by children trooping out of the church with smudges on their foreheads.

the seventh Wednesday before Easter

Genesis 3:19
“Remember, man, dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
(Latin: Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.)

40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, excluding Sunday

ideally, you'd fast the way Jesus did in the wilderness

but most devout Christians simply skip meat (carnival, as in goodbye to meat)

Old English: lencten=spring

Latin: Quadragesima=40