Someone found my blog today by using the search terms vatican ash wednesday leave ashes on?  Here in America a little ashen cross is traced on the forehead on Ash Wednesday. In Europe they sprinkle the ash on your head (like the picture above). Ashen-forehead-crosses are messy and the recipient starts to look like chimney sweep, esp. if they were distributed in the morning. I usually end up somehow getting mine all over the place: in my eyes, on papers, on my shirt, fingers – I am so messy.

In the end, I couldn’t find anything that said it’s wrong with washing the ash off. I usually wait until it no longer resembles a cross – which  isn’t long.