Ash Wednesday, which signals the start of Lent, will fall on Feb. 26 this year. Why ashes? When receiving ashes on their foreheads, parishioners hear the words: "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Today, February 26th, is Ash Wednesday, an ancient religious holiday that, for Catholics, is one of the holiest days of the year. In this case, blessing means the priest applies ashes to your forehead. Its official name is “Day of Ashes,” so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross.

On Ash Wednesday, many Christians go to church and part of the service is to get blessed with, you guessed it, ashes.

Ash Wednesday Rituals and Observances. Ash Wednesday is actually of pagan origin and was admitted into the church beliefs of the Catholic Church a few hundred years after Christ. It is a sign of repentance, and Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. A somber day on the Christian liturgical calendar, it marks the start of Lent. In many Western Christian denominations today, the practice of imposing palm ashes on one's forehead is conducted on Ash Wednesday… A man receives ashes on his forehead during an Ash Wednesday service in this file photo.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a 40-day period of penance for Christians around the world. The sign of the cross is made with the ashes on the foreheads of Catholics during the mass of Ash Wednesday, and they are supposed to keep it on their forehead until after sunset. The imposition of ashes with the sign of the cross on the forehead has been a tradition among Filipino Catholics during Ash Wednesday. In this case, blessing means the priest applies ashes to your forehead. Ash Wednessday, also known as the Day of Ashes… The person distributing the ashes marks the recipient’s forehead and says either, “Remember that we are dust and unto dust we shall return,” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” 5. For all Christians who observe it, Ash Wednesday is a solemn day of repentance and self-reflection. Since it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday , it will always fall on a Wednesday—there cannot be an “Ash Thursday” or “Ash Monday.” Some people mark Ash Wednesday by wearing a cross of ashes on their forehead Credit: Getty - Contributor What is the history of Ash Wednesday? The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are meant to represent dust. In "A Service for Worship for Ash Wednesday" in the United Methodist Book of Worship, two suggestions of what worship leaders may say as they make the sign of the cross on another's forehead are offered: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return," and "Repent, and believe the gospel." In other parts of the world like in Rome, the sprinkling of dry ashes on the head is the more common practice. The practice of marking ashes on the forehead relates back to the ancient times, when ashes were used to reveal sorrow and mourning.

Since it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday , it will always fall on a Wednesday—there cannot be an “Ash Thursday” or “Ash Monday.” People walk up to the altar using the same process as Communion. The ashes come from the burnt Palms from last year's Passion Sunday celebration, which begins Holy Week. The tradition of Ash Wednesday is handed down in the Catholic Church, but Protestant and Episcopalian churches may participate in celebrating Ash Wednesday, either in spirit or in the practice of wearing ashes on the forehead. Like in medieval times when people wore sackcloth and ashes, the ash mark is a call to repentance and preparation in the season leading up to Easter, which will be celebrated on April 21.

Ash Wednesday is actually of pagan origin and was admitted into the church beliefs of the Catholic Church a few hundred years after Christ. It is done for two reasons: a personal act of remembrance and as a sign or a witness for others.

While it is a practice that many still associate only with Roman Catholicism, it has grown in popularity with Protestant churches in recent years. Today, February 26th, is Ash Wednesday, an ancient religious holiday that, for Catholics, is one of the holiest days of the year.

Ashes are placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, in one of the most counter-cultural acts of our faith.

The custom of putting ashes on the foreheads of Christians on Ash Wednesday has been in use for centuries. Like in medieval times when people wore sackcloth and ashes, the ash mark is a call to repentance and preparation in the season leading up to Easter, which will be celebrated on April 21.