This year (2021), Ash Wednesday is early, it is on February 17 (it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10), It falls on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter. Generally, ashes have long been associated with sorrow, purification, and rebirth, which all play a role in the story of Easter Sunday (the end of Lent). Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God.
Tradition holds that Christians wear ashes on the first day of Lent in order to mourn and acknowledge the suffering that Jesus endured…his temptation in the wilderness and his sufferings during Holy Week…leading to his ultimate suffering on the cross.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Mathew 4: 1-11)
These scriptures about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness tie us into Ash Wednesday being the beginning of Lent and reflecting on Jesus temptation and death for us… a small price to pay for what he did for us…
Ash Wednesday is important because it marks the start of the Lenten period leading up to Easter, when Jesus was resurrected. The ashes symbolize both death and repentance. During this period, Christians show repentance and mourning for their sins, because Christ died for them (the ashes on the forehead is more of a Catholic thing)
Ashes are 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 Jesus Christ gave his life for when he died on the cross.
“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9: 3)
To prove their devotion many people give up things that they love, such as candy or sweets, favorite foods, television or — gasp! — social media.
The reason for their self-sacrifice: Christians want to replicate the hardships felt by Jesus during his time in the wilderness.
“Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42: 6)