HILLCREST, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Christians around the world celebrate the start of Lent today by observing Ash Wednesday.

Saint Francis of Assisi Parish on Chenango Street in Hillcrest has three services today.

Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, but it is an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence, where you can only eat one full meal, and no meat.

The ashes that are marked on the heads of Christian parishioners come from the burning of the palms that are used on the previous year’s Palm Sunday.

A common tradition throughout Lent is to “give-up” a certain habit and replace it with something more beneficial.

Father Tim Taugher says that too often, we focus on what we have been doing wrong, instead of thinking about what we can do better.

Father Tim Taugher says, “Sometimes it feels like Lent gets overly focused on our past. The things we’ve done and left undone. The life we have already lived. But what if Lent is really about the life yet to be lived.”

Lent ends after the conclusion of Easter Sunday on April 9th.

Saint Francis will be holding a joint prayer service at Ogden Hillcrest church directly next door this evening at 7.