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Why do people have black stuff on their foreheads today?

A worshiper receives the sign of the cross marked in ash on her forehead, from theGetty Images

In your travels today, you’ve likely noticed a few passerbys with black marks on their foreheads as today – Wednesday, March 1 - is Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday signifies the first day of Lent in Western Christianity and many Catholics and Methodists have “ashes” in the shape of the cross marked on their foreheads in observation of the day.

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The practice comes from blessing ashes from palm branches that were blessed on Palm Sunday from the year prior.

Ash Wednesday occurs 46 days prior to Easter.

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