We have to go to a school concert tonight, so we were up early and at Mass at 6:45 to celebrate Ash Wednesday as the beginning of Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday).
As I understand it, the custom of having the ashes put on the forhead comes from the ancient custom of the wearing of sackcloth and ashes as an outward sign of repentance. It is also customary in our church to "give up something for Lent" so that everytime you reach for that piece of chocolate or video game controller or whatever...you remember Jesus's sacrifice for us.
I like both these customs. I like that they remind me how blessed I am and how much my God loves me!