Ash Wednesday is a religious holiday that falls exactly 46 days before the day of Easter. This Wednesday is special because it marks off the beginning of Lent, which is the time when those who are faithful fast in order to give glory to god and cleanse their bodies and spirits. During Lent individuals give up things that they hold dear, and they spend these days reflecting on their sins and lives. Penance is performed by fasting in order to atone for any past misdeeds and sins. On Ash Wednesday those who practice the religion usually receive ashes in the sign of a cross on their forehead as a visual reminder. The ashes used have been blessed and are considered holy, and they are left on the forehead through the entire day without being washed off. Most Catholics observe Ash Wednesday and so do a small number of Christian sects.