Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God.
The priest, minister, or officiating layperson marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the sign of the cross, which the worshiper traditionally retains until it wears off. The priest or minister says one or both of the following when applying the ashes: Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return (Genesis 3:19). Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel (Mark 1:15). This practice is celebrated by Catholics, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodists, Presbyterians, and some Baptist denominations.