Ash Wednesday is a holy day of prayer and fasting. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday and falls on the first day of Lent, the six weeks of penitence before Easter. Ash Wednesday is traditionally observed by Western Christians. It is observed by Catholics in the Roman Rite, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Moravians, Nazarenes, and Independent Catholics, as well as by many from the Reformed faith (inclusive of the Congregationalist, Continental Reformed, and Presbyterian traditions).
As it is the first day of Lent, many Christians begin Ash Wednesday by marking a Lenten calendar, praying a Lenten daily devotional, and making a Lenten sacrifice that they will not partake of until the arrival of Eastertide.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to either the words «Repent, and believe in the Gospel» or the dictum «Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.» The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations.