People around the world may be wearing ashes on their foreheads and discussing what they will give up for the next 46 days on Wednesday.
This may seem strange, but it is a mark that people practicing both Catholicism and Christianity receive during mass on Ash Wednesday, one of their most important and popular holy days. As people who practice the religions will also be following Lent leading up to Easter, it marks the beginning of the countdown to Easter.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, so here’s what you need to know:
Ashes Wednesday, or the Day of Ashes, is a day of repentance when Catholics and Christians confess their sins and profess their devotion to God.
A professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton told USA TODAY it’s an important period in Catholic and Christian history as even those who aren’t religious are aware of it.
“It’s pretty well recognized that Ash Wednesday is a day people come to church even if they don’t attend regularly,” Johnston said. “It’s just one of those days that has a lot of cultural significance.”