RELIGION

Christians Celebrate Ash Wednesday Around The World

02/18/2015 10:41 am ET | Updated May 14, 2015

Ash Wednesday falls on February 18, 2015, marking the beginning of Lent for Christians around the world. When the day arrives, Christians embark on a 40-day season of fasting that is considered preparation for Holy Week and the celebration of Easter.

Christians observe Ash Wednesday by visiting a local church or religious center where clergy dispense ashes, making the sign of the cross on their bowed foreheads. As they deliver the ashes, pastors or priests recite Genesis 3:19: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

See how Christians around the world are observing Ash Wednesday:

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    An Indian Catholic priest marks cross symbol on the forehead of devotees during an Ash Wednesday service at the St. Joseph Cathedral in Hyderabad, India, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Catholic nun uses ash to mark a cross on the forehead of a woman in observance of Ash Wednesday at The Redemptorist Church at suburban Paranaque city south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Catholic nun uses ash to mark a cross on the forehead of a child in observance of Ash Wednesday at The Redemptorist Church at suburban Paranaque city south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    With their foreheads marked with ash, Catholic devotees pray after lighting candles in observance of Ash Wednesday at The Redemptorist Church at suburban Paranaque city, south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Catholic nun and a lay minister use ashes to mark with a cross the foreheads of devotees in observance of Ash Wednesday among Roman Catholics at The Redemptorist Church at suburban Paranaque city, south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.
  • GABRIEL BOUYS via Getty Images
    A man sells Vatican's flags outside the Santa Sabina church before the Ash Wednesday mass opening Lent, the forty-day period of abstinence and deprivation for Christians, before Holy Week and Easter on February 18, 2015 in Rome.
  • Robertus Pudyanto via Getty Images
    SURABAYA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 18: A Catholic devotee receives a cross mark with ash on her forehead during Ash Wednesday Mass at Roh Kudus Church on February 18, 2015 in Surabaya, Indonesia.
  • Robertus Pudyanto via Getty Images
    SURABAYA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 18: A Catholic devotee receives a cross mark with ash on her forehead during Ash Wednesday Mass at Roh Kudus Church on February 18, 2015 in Surabaya, Indonesia.
  • Robertus Pudyanto via Getty Images
    SURABAYA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 18: Priest Aloysius Widyawan, RD leads the Ash Wednesday Mass at Roh Kudus Church on February 18, 2015 in Surabaya, Indonesia.
  • Robertus Pudyanto via Getty Images
    SURABAYA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 18: Catholic devotees pray during Ash Wednesday Mass at Roh Kudus Church on February 18, 2015 in Surabaya, Indonesia.
  • NOEL CELIS via Getty Images
    Roman Catholics queue up to have crosses etched to their foreheads with ash by nuns and laymen as the country marks Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of the Christian Lenten season in Manila on February 18, 2015.
  • NOAH SEELAM via Getty Images
    Indian Archbishop of Hyderabad Thumma Bala (R) marks the symbol of the cross with ash on the forehead of a young Christian devotee during an Ash Wednesday service at Saint Mary's Basilica in Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, on February 18, 2015.

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