The official name for Ash Wednesday is “Day of Ashes” and it celebrates the first day of Lent.
It is called this because of the ritual of rubbing ashes on the forehead in the sign of a cross. It will always fall exactly 40 days (which excludes Sundays) before Easter Sunday.
Lent is when many religions prepare for Easter, by undertaking a period of fasting, forgiveness, repentance and spiritual discipline to re-cleanse the soul.
During an Ash Wednesday church service, the minister or priest will rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of his worshippers.
These ashes are made by burning the previous years blessed palm fronds as a symbol of death and it is a reminder that not only do religions rejoice of Jesus’ coming but also regret that he came to Jerusalem to die on the cross for the sins they had committed.