By: Jill Clapp

As a kid, I remember going to church on a Wednesday night around this time of the year and the pastor would put the black ashes on my head. I always thought that the ashes on my head were so cool, but I never really understood what it meant. I did some research to find out what my memories were actually about.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent. Lent is usually known as the 46 day period where people have to give something up and try their best to stick with it. To other Catholics and Christians, it is a time of fasting and prayer. The ashes that are put on foreheads in the shape of a cross represent the dust from when God created us. While some choose to wash the ashes off after mass or the church service, others choose to keep them on for the remainder of the day to remember the evening. When I was little, I liked to keep them on my forehead because I thought it was cool to wear them around. As I grew older, I started to wonder how they got ashes to put on our heads. They surely didn’t come from the garbage. The ashes came from the palm leaves used on Palm Sunday. They are said to be blessed. The palm leaves that turned to ash are intended to remind believers of God’s grace and mercy.

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