Western Christian calendar, is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days (40 days not counting Sundays) before Easter. It is a moveable fast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter. It can occur as early as February 4 (February 5 on leap years) or as late as March 10.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are typically gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the minister who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his or her own forehead and then on those of congregants.
We didn't do this in the Baptist Church when I was a child but after I married I join the Episcopal Church and did follow the ceremony. I loved it. Very comforting for some reason. Of course I love anything to with the children like this. They are such little angels and all cute & dressed up.