MANY think of Lent as a time to give up something, such as chocolate or booze, but it is an important event in the Christian calendar.
Let us take a closer look at why it is so special and why people give up one of their vices during this time.
What is Lent?
Lent is the six-week period leading up to Easter Sunday.
The actual length is 46 days – however, 40 of these are fasting day and six are Sundays.
Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter”. The period of Lent is seen as a time of solemn observance and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter.
From its start on Ash Wednesday until its conclusion on Easter Sunday, Lent has been a traditional time for fasting or giving something up or abstinence.
The word Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word Lenten, which means “spring”.
The 40 days represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
It can also be seen to mirror the 40 hours that Jesus spent in the tomb prior to his resurrection.
When is Lent in 2019?
Lent will begin on Ash Wednesday – which in 2019 falls on March 6. It will come to an end on Thursday, April 18, with the following day known as Good Friday – the day on which the Crucifixion of Christ is commemorated.
Good Friday is also traditionally a day of fasting and penance.
Why do we give things up during Lent? Many Christians will use Lent to commit to fasting, choosing to abstain from certain foods, habits or vices.
The fasting and abstinence is meant to mirror the experience of Jesus Christ and his experience of fasting in the desert.
Traditionally, Christians would fast during the 40 days of Lent, meaning they would have only one full meal a day and two small snacks.
However, nowadays Christians choose to abstain from something in particular – like a food item or luxury like chocolate or caffeine, or a particular habit like drinking or smoking.
In today’s technological age, others choose to give up social media or even using their phones.
Generally, those observing Lent will also aim to perform one positive act for each of the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
These “positive acts” can include calling up someone who is alone, donating to a worthy cause, clearing up after dinner and letting someone go ahead of you in a supermarket queue.