A Catholic nun marks a cross on the forehead of a devotee using ash during the observance of Ash Wednesday
A Catholic nun marks a cross on the forehead of a devotee using ash during the observance of Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent, at a National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Paranaque city, Metro Manila, Philippines February 14, 2018.REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Ash Wednesday 2018 falls on February 14. As suggested by its name, it falls on Wednesday every year but the date changes based on the date of Easter (which is celebrated either in March or April) and the length of Lent.

Ash Wednesday marks the onset of Lent, which is observed for 40 days and concludes just ahead of Easter Sunday. The Catholic Church and a few other Christian denominations like Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians observe the day.

The faithful are supposed to observe the day in prayer, penance, and abstinence from their favorite food or fast. The priest on this day marks the forehead of the churchgoers with ash in the shape of a cross as he spells out these words from the Bible: "Remember, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. Repent, and hear the good news". Ashes that is used on Wednesday is extracted by burning the palm branches blessed on the previous year's Palm Sunday.

Fr. Jerry Habunal, a Catholic priest, leads the burning dried palm leaves as they burn to be used for Ash Wednesday rites
Fr. Jerry Habunal, a Catholic priest, leads the burning dried palm leaves as they burn to be used for Ash Wednesday rites, marking the start of Lent at the Our Lady of the Abandoned Diocesan Shrine Parish in Muntinlupa city, south of Manila, Philippines February 9, 2018.REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Some inspirational quotes related to Ash Wednesday mentioned in the Holy Bible:

Matthew 4: 1-4

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."

Matthew 4: 5-7

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "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."

Matthew 4: 8-11

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. "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.

Genesis 2:7

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Ezekiel 9:4

The Lord said to him, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it."

Job 42:5-6

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Genesis 3:19

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

What is Lent?

Lent is observed for 40 days, that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. The total number of days leading up to Easter Sunday are 46 but six Sundays are not counted as people are free not to fast on the holy days while it mandatory for many churches to fast on Ash Wednesday and Fridays that fall on Lent.

Lent 2018 starts on February 14 and will conclude on March 29. It symbolizes the 40 trying days and nights that Jesus Christ spent in the desert before he was crucified. Many Christian denominations observe today in abstinence, penance, fasting and prayer.

Lent season ends with Easter Sunday which is celebrated to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, three days after he was crucified and buried.