Ash Definition and Meaning

Of the Latin cinisia, which in turn derives from cinis, the term ash refers to the powder gray leaving a process of combustion. Ash is made up of metal oxides, silica, and other substances.

It can be said that ashes are the residue of a combustion. Usually some of the ash remains in the area as dust while the rest is scattered in the smoke. For example: “Be careful with the ashes of the cigar: do not get your clothes dirty”, “After several hours of fire, the cabin was reduced to ashes”, “The volcano continued to throw ashes for more than a week”.

In the example of the fire that reduced the cabin to ashes, we can see that one of the nuances of this term refers to destruction, at the end of the existence of something or someone. This can also be used figuratively, to express the feeling of defeat in the face of an obstacle that seems impossible to overcome, either because of its difficulty or because of a lack of strength.

Many times the ashes are used for some ritual purpose. In ancient times they were used to purify or clean. They were also linked to mourning.

It should be noted that, in many cultures, it is common for the body of a deceased person to be cremated (cremated), being reduced to ashes. Then the ashes are deposited in boxes or urns made of wood or other material so that the loved ones of the deceased decide what to do with the remains.

It is known as Ash Wednesday, on the other hand, the number one day of Lent. This means that Ash Wednesday is celebrated forty days before the arrival of Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week.

The Christian liturgy of Ash Wednesday consists of the imposition on the faithful of the ashes that are generated after burning the branches that had been blessed on Palm Sunday of the previous year. Usually the priest draws a cross on the forehead of the believer with the ashes.

In the world of literature, ash is a symbolic element of one of the most famous stories in history: Cinderella. It is a folkloric story that has been disclosed in various versions, both written and oral, and also varies depending on the time and country. One of the best known publications was signed by the French writer Charles Perrault and dates from the year 1697; the title he gave it is Cinderella or The Glass Slipper.

The most frequently read version of this fairy tale in the West tells the story of a young woman loses her father as a child and is left in charge of her stepmother, a cruel woman without any kind of consideration for her, who treats her like a slave and reminds her every day that she is not his biological daughter.

As if poor Cinderella couldn’t get enough of her unjust stepmother, she must also bear the scorn of her three stepsisters, who also take advantage of her innocence and use her as a servant. Perrault’s title to this classic work refers to a “little glass slipper”, one of the fundamental elements of the story.

The Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini included the story of Cinderella in his outstanding repertoire, and his version is among one of the most popular operas today. The lead role requires a very agile voice to reproduce all the coloratura passages; For many, Cecilia Bartoli is the singer who best interprets it.


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