It is a holiday of obligation and the faithful are supposed to attend masses . During the masses, ashes are imposed on the foreheads of the faithful . The priest or the officiating layperson marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the sign of the cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until it wears off. Made by burning palms, the ashes are a reminder of mortality, a symbol of spirituality and a sign of repentance at the start of the season leading to Easter.
As Wednesdays is the first day of the Lenten Season, a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, spiritual discipline and giving.