ASH Wednesday comes the day after Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day.
The day is celebrated as it is of huge importance to Christians across the globe.
Why do people wear ashes on their forehead?
Ash Wednesday, also known as the Day of Ashes, is thought to have first been observed during the papacy of Gregory the Great, who was Pope from 590-604 and marks the first day of Lent and it is TODAY (March 2, 2022).
It is an important day in the Christian calendar as it marks the first day of fasting, repentance, prayer and self-control that will be required during Lent.
Its official name is Day of Ashes, due to the mostly Catholic practice of rubbing ashes in the sign of the cross on people's foreheads.
This is when the custom of marking the head with ashes is thought to have begun, according to The Holiday Spot.
The placing of ashes on the head was a practice of the Anglo-Saxon church in the 10th Century, with it becoming universal throughout the Western church in 1091.
Biblical scholar and Priest Lauren F. Winner told Time Magazine that celebrating Ash Wednesday "dates back to the 11th Century".
She said: "You see that in the book Daniel in the nine chapter there’s a line about associating fasting with ashes, so ashes are associated with penance, which is the dominant theme of Lent."
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Where do the ashes come from?
The ashes were originally a sign of penance but now the rite is used to mark the start of Lent.
Traditionally, ashes used on Ash Wednesday are gathered up after palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. They are then blessed before being used in the ceremony.
Palms are used on Palm Sunday in many Christian churches to symbolize Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before his crucifixion.
Residents of Jerusalem are said to have waved palm fronds to celebrate his arrival.
These days the ash used to draw the crosses come from the palms that were blessed the previous Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Easter, and is mixed with olive oil or water to make a thick black paste.
What other Ash Wednesday customs are there?
Catholics are not supposed to eat meat on Ash Wednesday.
They also are expected to give up meat on Fridays during Lent.
Catholics also are expected to fast on Ash Wednesday.
Fasting means consuming only one full meal a day; two smaller meals that don't together add up to a full meal also are allowed.
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