Ash Wednesday derives it's name from the ritual of burning palm crosses from last years Palm Sunday and marking a cross on your forehead as a public sign of contrition. Ashes are a biblical sign of repentance. In our house we mark Ash Wednesday a little differently - we make ashes, burning our crosses from last year, the boys thoroughly enjoy this part of the ritual as the dry, brittle palms make a really good blaze! We then mix the ashes with soil and plant wheat berries. They grow quite quickly over the weeks and serve as a fresh , green reminder that, as we commit ourselves to discipline during Lent, God will produce new growth in us.
From repentance comes new life.
'....unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds.' John 12:24.