Christians around the world mark Ash Wednesday (PHOTOS)

It’s a good bet giving up alcohol for Lent tops the list of many New Orleans revellers today, Ash Wednesday, as thousands departed the morning after Mardi Gras.

Today marks 40 days before Easter to Christians around the world. Many attended a noon-hour mass to receive ashes on their foreheads, while thousands more shuffled through airport security in New Orleans on their way home.

“It was really great business-wise, but it’s not always easy for us,” tour operator Colin Tyler told the Associated Press in the French Quarter. “Ninety percent of our customers were drunk.”

Pope Benedict XVI said Ash Wednesday is a “day of penitence and fasting,” the Associated Press reported. He delivered a mass at Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome.

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