What is Lent?

Categories: Church,Events,Principles

LENT begins on Ash Wednesday, and marks the beginning of the 40 day fast ahead of Easter. But when is the first day of Lent in 2017? By REISS SMITH
PUBLISHED: 11:32, Tue, Feb 28, 2017 | UPDATED: 11:41, Tue, Feb 28, 2017

When is the first day of Lent?
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which this year falls Wednesday March 1st.
Lent begins the day after Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, and ends the day before Easter Sunday.
The exact dates change each year and are determined by the lunar calendar.
Easter Sunday always falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring equinox.

What does Lent mean to Christians?
Lent is a period of 40 days (not including Sundays) before Easter, during which Christians traditionally fast or give up indulgent treats. It is a time for prayer and repentance, and remembers the sacrifices that Jesus made while he fasted in the desert for 40 days and was tempted by the Devil – a story known as the Temptation of Christ. Lent culminates with the Holy Week, including Good Friday – which commemorates the Jesus’ crucifixion and Holy Saturday – which marks the day that Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. The day after Lent is Easter Sunday, which celebrates Jesus’ resurrection.

JesusontheCross
Lent remembers the sacrifices made by Jesus before his crucifixion

Lentimage
People make pancakes the day before Ash Wednesday to use up rich foods

Why do Christians give things up for Lent?
Traditionally, Christians will make pancakes to use up rich, indulgent foods such as eggs and milk on the day before Lent. Some Christians fast for the whole period of Lent to remember Jesus’ sacrifice in the Judean desert. Sundays are exempt from the fast. Others choose to only fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Many people, including those who do not attend church, choose to give something up for Lent. This can be a favorite food such as chocolate or sugar, or a vice such as alcohol or smoking. Some people mark Lent by taking part in the Lenten Positive Acts Challenge – whereby they commit to doing one positive act on each day of Lent.

What can’t we eat during Lent?
Lent was traditionally a time for fasting but many Christians now tend to give up different kinds of things such as chocolate and sweets. Some Christians who observe Lent follow a strict diet of no meat – including beef, chicken, pork and lamb – as well as staying away from sugar, eggs and milk. Most foods deriving from these products, such as chocolate or sweets, are also not permitted while others also give up alcohol for Lent. A number of Christian communities only fast on Fridays during Lent – including Good Friday just before Easter Sunday.

Do all Christians fast during Lent?
Nowadays the observance of Lent has become less strict, with people fasting for shorter periods of time or not at all. Even for those with a strict Lenten diet, there are some exceptions to fasting. For example, children under the age of 14 and people over the age of 60 are not required to fast during Lent.

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