Lent tradition is a holy period that lasts for 40 days leading up to Easter. This 40-day long period is one of the oldest and sacred traditions in Christian Calendar.
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Christians believe this to be a period of soul-searching and repentance. It is practiced by Catholics and also by the followers of Orthodox tradition, all around the world.
The first day of lent 2019 will be on 6th March and it will continue till 18th April 2019.
So, if you want to get an insight regarding Lent before Easter 2019 arrives, make sure you keep reading.
History of Lent
Lent is derived from the word ‘lencten’, belonging to the Anglo-Saxon dictionary. The word ‘lencten’ means spring.
If you look back in the preliminary days, you see that Lent was associated to Baptism.
Baptism is a process of using holy water to purify the Christians. Back then the newly converted Christians were prepared for baptism to purify them off the past.
But, with time lent kept on changing.
In the present time, Lent is seen as more of a practice to strengthen the relationship between the practitioner and the God. It is mostly done by giving up something for 40 days in the name of ‘sacrifice for God’ to profess love.
Fasting for lent is one of many religious practices observed by the Christians all around the world. Even though there is no set standard for fasting during lent season. But the fact that Jesus Christ spent 40 days in wilderness fasting and avoiding Satan temptations lead the followers to replicate in the footsteps.
While most of the lent practices are observed in both i.e. Catholic lent and Orthodox lent. But the key difference lies in the dates of Easter.
Why Lent Lasts for 40 Days?
Lent was not always practiced for 40 days. In fact, in the earlier times it used to last only for 3 to 4 days.
Similar to the rest of the Christian holidays, lent has changed over the years owing to several other opinions or reviews by priests. Nevertheless, the purpose of Lent has always been the same i.e. self-examination and patience.
The concept of lent lasting up to 40 days originated in 325. In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea which is an old council of Christian Church finalized that the lent would last up to six weeks till Easter.
But There’s more,
If you count the decided lent period, you will realize that the total number of days are more than 40. But in lent, the Sundays are excluded since they are thought to be ‘mini-Easters’.
So, it’s obvious that you can break lent on Sundays.
When Does Lent Start?
In majority Christian calendars, the first Sunday in lent is the one which is after ‘Ash Wednesday’. Ash Wednesday is named after the tradition of marking an impression on the forehead of Christians. This mark is made up of ashes and is applied on the Wednesday. Hence, it’s named as ‘Ash Wednesday’.
Ash Wednesday is believed to be the first day of lent as it inaugurates the catholic lent. In other words, beginning of lent is marked by Ash Wednesday.
These 40 days of lent represent the hardships that Jesus Christ had to go through while being tempted by the Satan. Christians believe that Jesus Christ spent these 40 days in wilderness and to acknowledge this fact about lent, they fast for 40 days.
So, I guess the origin of Lent is pretty clear to you guys.
Does Lent End on Easter?
Those 40 days spent in wilderness by Jesus Christ are the same as 40 day fasting by his followers. Then to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the eve of Easter, Christians break their fasting. The answer to your question is ‘YES’. Lent ends on Easter.
The practice of lent varies from person to person.
There are no as such strict rules of lent (such as ‘during lent what can you eat or what not’), except that it starts after Ash Wednesday and leads up to Easter Sunday.
Some people give up all of the food items during the period of lent while some only avoid luxury food items.
Luxury food items include; desserts, meat, fish or even eggs. The idea is to give up something that is dear to you. It could be delicious food items, or it could also be an activity that you like to do.
Some Christians avoid going to gym or watching TV for the period of lent.
- Devoting yourself to something
- Giving up something for the love of God
Often in the period of lent, prayers for lent are said together by the family. The families decide to devote themselves to study more about religion and every family member participates in a family worship. This helps each of the family member to learn more about their religion.
For some, lent is a time to prepare for upcoming Easter.
In Europe. There are no weddings in the lent period. They believe giving up on something will help them gain spiritual meaning. Majority of the Christians believe eating no meat during lent will earn them forgiveness. During lent, in many churches the altar is covered with a purple cloth. There are certain hymns for lent and Easter which are practiced on the respective occasions.
Fasting during lent season is closely linked with the fasting of Jesus Christ during his time in wilderness. So, all across the globe the Christians decide to take a break in the form of fasting, six weeks before Easter.
Regardless of what activity or food is avoided in the period of lent, it is practiced to welcome the resurrection of Jesus Christ in advance.
Want to share how you spend you Lent? Do let us know in comments.