For Catholics, Ash Wednesday is marked with a cross of ash on their foreheads. Those ashes are made from palms used in last year's Palm Sunday services.
Some priests and pastors say they see more people in church Ash Wednesday than any other holiday.
"It's that beginning time that I think most of us realize there's a time in our life when we need to refocus ourselves and enter a time of retreat and a time for greater emphasis on God in our life," said Father Larry McBride of Holy Name Catholic Church. "And Ash Wednesday gives us that opportunity of 40 days for that."
It is also tradition, especially among Catholics, to give up something meaningful during lent. But that is now most often meat on Fridays, which is why so many fast food chains have fish sandwich specials this time of year.