Ash Wednesday is celebrated by many Christian religions as the beginning of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice in the 40 days leading up to Easter.
On Ash Wednesday, Christians attend church and receive a cross marked on their forehead in ashes as a sign of repentance.
Once you receive the ashes, you are not supposed to wipe them off. Instead, it is intended that you will leave them until they gradually wear off.
The ashes are typically made by burning the palm fronds that are given out on Palm Sunday during the previous Lent.