Ash Wednesday basics: 10 ways black Americans kick off Lent

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the official start of the 40-day season of Lent, which leads up to Easter.

African-Americans make up only about 2 percent of American Catholics, according to the Pew Forum on Religion in 2007 — that translates to about 3 million black Catholics in the U.S., according to the National Black Catholic Congress, compared with some 68 million black Catholics in Brazil, the country with the most. There are 34 million in Nigeria, 28 million in the Congo and up to 6 million in Haiti (most Caribbean, South American and African countries are predominantly Catholic.)

Still, black American Catholics, along with many black Protestants (particularly Presbyterians and Lutherans, but also Baptists and other congregations) get in on the Lenten season. Here are 10 things you might not know about how black folks celebrate the start of the Easter season.