When I was young, I always wanted to have a darker mark on my forehead during Ash Wednesday. Since, I am just a little girl I really do not know the meaning and significance of this day until I became older and started to listen to what priests say.
In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days (forty days not counting Sundays) before Easter. It falls on a different date each year, because it is dependent on the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the priest who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his own forehead and then on each of those present who kneel before him at the altar rail. As he does so, he recites the words: "Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Here is the actual mark on my forehead. Not that dark, huh :p
A lot of people go to mass during Ash Wednesday. Some knows the meaning of it but others do not. Others follow the fasting and abstinence code but others just ignore it. The Catholic church says that people between 14-60 should do the fasting and abstinence. There should be no eating of pork during Ash Wednesday, all Fridays during the 40 days as well as Good Friday and also Black Saturday if possible. But mandatory are the Fridays and the Ash Wednesday itself. Not only fasting and abstinence should be done. We should also extend help to others in great need and attend mass everyday. These are some of the good deeds that Catholics should observe during this Season. As for me, I am a hypocrite to say that I do all these. Yes, I try to follow them but I am just human making mistakes. I believe this is the best time to ask for forgiveness so I also try to have a confession once a year.
(People are falling in line to receive ash)