The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 9. Lent began with the church tradition of having new converts--catechumens, or learners--prepare for their baptism in the season leading up to Easter, when they would be baptized. The practices of prayer, fasting, charity and scripture reading eventually caught on as already-baptized Christians realized the spiritual value of special time to preparing for the Resurrection and focus on spiritual disciplines. Not all churches celebrate Lent as an official season, but all approve of humbly preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ and of His Kingdom. The ashes that people get on their heads for Ash Wednesday are both a reminder of our mortality (and need for a Savior), and a symbol of repentance.
Ash Wednesday services dot the city. Two of note include:
1) The seven heavily attended Ash Wednesday imposition of ash services at the Catholic St. Matthew's Cathedral, 1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
2) A three-church joint service at 7pm at National Baptist Memorial Church at 1501 Columbia Rd. NW. Nearby congregations Church of the Advent and The District Church will participate (and other members of the community are also invited to participate.)
Feel free to mention others.