This year the 22nd of February is the Ash Wednesday - Środa Popielcowa or Popielec as we call it. Once it used to be called Wstępna Środa - the Introductory Wednesday, as it begins the pre Easter Lent period. During today’s Mass priests/ministers put a sign of cross on the forehead of adherents, using ash gathered after burning previous year’s Palm Sunday’s palms. It symbolizes mourning and atonement. You should wear the sign of cross as long, as it wears off.
Środa Popielcowa is a fast day, so believers should eat only 3 small meatless meals. However in the past, fasting was much more severe in Poland. Housewives used to clean all the dishes with ash, to prevent food contact with any animal fat left overs. Only plum or sunflower oils were allowed in Lent. Generally in that period only herrings, cabbage and soup made from fermented rye flour.
Hope you learned something new!