5. Last Year's Palm Sunday Branches Used for Ashes
The ashes for Ash Wednesday are traditionally taken from palm branches that were used for the previous year's Palm Sunday, stressing the theme of mortality that the Lenten service holds.
The United Methodist Book of Worship notes that in addition to the palm branches from last year, the burned items for the ashes can also include a paper card with sins written on them.
"It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday service to burn to produce ashes for this service. Sometimes a small card or piece of paper is distributed on which each person writes a sin or hurtful or unjust characteristic," notes the UMC resource.
"The cards are then brought to the altar to be burned with the palm branches. The ash cross on the forehead is an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance for sins."