You are bound to see them today, Christians, especially Catholics, wearing a smudge of ashes on their foreheads. Today is Ash Wednesday.

If you've always wondered what's behind this religious practice, here is what you should know about Ash Wednesday and the celebration of Lent.

Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration, according to

During Mass today, a priest will place ashes on a worshiper's forehead in the shape of a  cross. The ceremony is meant to show that a person belongs to Jesus Christ, and it also represents a person's grief and mourning for their sins — the same sins that Christians believe Jesus Christ gave his life for when he died on the cross.

By the way, traditionally, ashes used on Ash Wednesday are gathered up after palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. They are then blessed before being used in the ceremony.

It is a tradition during the season of Lent for many people to “give something up.”  Some examples of the things people give up include chocolate, alcohol, smoking, television, and Facebook.

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