Ash Wednesday is a Christian festival that marks the beginning of six and a half weeks of repentance, fasting and abstinence in preparation for the most important Christian festival of Easter.
- Ash Wednesday 2010 is on 17 February
- The date of Ash Wednesday varies each year according to the date of Easter. It is always six-and-a-half weeks before Easter. The earliest possible date of Ash Wednesday is 4 February and the latest possible date is 10 March.
- It is called Ash Wednesday as ashes are something that are left when something is burned. For Christians, ashes are a symbol of being sorry for things they have done wrong and want to get rid of forever. It is also a reminder to them that we all come from ashes, and to ashes we all will return. The marking on the forehead with ash marks the commitment to Jesus Christ and God. They wanted to show God that they were sorry for the wrong things they had done in the past year. Using a mark on the forehead as a sign of commitment is also used in many Middle Eastern cultures where a round, coloured circle is marked on the forehead.
- On Ash Wednesday, many will attend a religious service where the ashes are blessed by the church leader, and placed on their forehead.