Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.
Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God. Ashes are also a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a sign of penance.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.