Ash Wednesday, the day of Ashes, is a solemn reminder of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God and marks the beginning of the penitential Lenten season. During a mass, a priest places the ashes on a worshiper’s forehead in the shape of a cross.
Ash Wednesday is an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence, where only one full meal and no meat are to be consumed. Although Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, it is traditionally one of the liturgical year's most heavily attended non-Sunday masses. Worship services are also held on Ash Wednesday in Anglican, Lutheran, and other Protestant churches. Eastern Orthodox churches begin Lent on a Monday and do not observe Ash Wednesday.