Ash Wednesday

According to Western Christianity, ‘Ash Wednesday’ is the first day of Lent, the forty day season of fasting and prayer prior to Easter. It is so named because the faithful are marked on the forehead with black ashes in the shape of a cross to signify repentance. The ashes are gathered from the burnt crosses of Palm Sunday and participants wear the cross until it is washed off after sundown. Some Christians, however, believe the origins of this practice are pagan and do not observe Ash Wednesday.