The kids, happily, went to school as scheduled and received their ashes at the school Mass. Mrs. Nod was teasing Blynken and Nod-girl at the dinner table to see what they understood about the symbolism of Ash Wednesday.
Mrs. Nod: You have a dirty face.
Nod-girl: That's because I need a napkin for my dinner.
Mrs. Nod: Not that kind of dirty; I mean up on your forehead -- you have a smudge.
Nod-girl: That's my cross.
Mrs. Nod: Why do you have a cross?
Nod-girl: To remind us of Jesus.
Blynken: No, it's to remind us that we're made of ashes.
Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.
From American Catholic:
Although Ash Wednesday is not a Catholic holy day of obligation, it is an important part of the season of Lent. The first clear evidence of Ash Wednesday is around 960, and in the 12th century people began using palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday for ashes.