Ash Wednesday, in the Western Christian calendar, is the first day of Lent, forty days before Easter.The day derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of congregants as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are typically gathered after burning the the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday. The ashes are mixed with the olive oil or water. This paste is used by the minister who makes the sign of the cross, first upon his or her own forehead and then on those of congregants. The minister administering ashes recites the words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return".
Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. - Genesis 3:19
Repent, and hear the good news. - Mark 1:15