Wednesday, Feb. 22, marks the start of Lent which occurs 46 days before Easter.
Filipino Catholics gathered to churches early Wednesday to celebrate the first day of Lent, a 40-day period of prayer and fasting for Christmas, by applying ash on their forehead.
Before the beginning public ministry, during which Jesus resisted temptation by Satan, he spent 40 days fasting in the desert, according to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
The name Ash Wednesday is derived from the practice of dabbing ash on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God.
The ashes used for dabbing are generally collected after dried palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned.
However, this year churches are buying commercially produced ashes online.
“We just had a call 10 minutes ago,” Mark Gould, owner of Religious Supply Service in Davenport, Iowa told Los Angeles Times. “We’ve had them all day long.”
This practice is common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Episcopalians, United Methodists and Presbyterians.