holiday celebrations | days & dates | fun & wacky daily holidays | holiday travel | holiday blog | holiday greeting cards | holiday recipes | email
02212007aw2.jpg02212007aw2.jpg02212007aw2.jpg02212007aw2.jpg

The Lenten Season


Lent Begins: Ash Wednesday March 09, 2011


The Lenten Season or Lent refers to the forty-day period leading up to the holiday of Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter, and ends the Saturday before Easter Sunday.


Lent is considered a time of fasting, repentance and deep soul searching. The heaviness of Lent is lifted each Sunday, since Sunday is the day on which Jesus was resurrected and is therefore considered a "mini"-Easter.


A quick counting reveals that there are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. However, Sundays are not counted in the total since they are considered a celebratory day. Their removal results in the 40 days - rather than 46 days - of Lent.

The Significance of Forty

The origins of Lent can be traced back to the footsteps of Jesus, who spent 40 days wandering in the desert wilderness, facing temptations from Satan. Jesus is believed to have overcome the devil's temptations through fasting and sincere repentance.


Forty is also a significant number throughout Judeo-Christian tradition. The Jewish people are said to have spent forty years wandering in the desert after escaping slavery in Egypt before they entered the Promised Land. During their sojourn, Moses is believed to have received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai - but only after he spent 40 days alone on the mountain.


In the Book of Jonah, the prophet gave the evil-doers of Nineveh forty days to repent their sins before God would destroy them. Likewise, sins led God to bring the great flood of forty days and forty nights, which Noah, his family and his fleet of paired animals survived on an ark.


Lent Practices and Traditions

While not scripturally proscribed, Lent has been practiced for over two thousand years, since the earliest days of the Church. The first Christians understood Lent as a period of preparation for Easter. Faithful followers re-devoted themselves through fasting and repenting for their sins. Many converts to Christianity were also baptized during the Lenten season.


Today, Christians vow to give up something of temporal significance in lieu of actual fasting. In Roman Catholic tradition, meat and chicken are not eaten during Lent. In Protestant tradition, followers will often give up something they consider a vice - junk food, cable TV or anything else blocking their focus on true repentance.


The other customs of Lent include increased commitment to prayer, particularly repentance, and almsgiving. A number of churches focus on increased tithing during the Lenten season.


The Days of Lent

The days of Lent are set in relationship to Easter, which falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox -sometime between March 22 and April 25. The forty days of Lent (not including Sundays) are counted backward from Easter.


Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season, commemorated by priests, ministers and (Roman Catholic) parishioners who mark their foreheads with ashes to remind themselves that they were created from - and will be returned to - dust.


In many cultures, the day before Ash Wednesday is also a special day, marked by a boisterous festival, such as Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Fat Tuesday in France, and Carnival in Brazil. In fact, in Latin, the word Carnival means "farewell to meat" - significant since Catholics abstain from eating meat during Lent.


The fifth Sunday of the Lenten Season is known as Passion Sunday and marks the beginning of the Passiontide, or the two weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday is the sixth Lenten Sunday, and marks the start of Holy Week, or the final week of Lent before Easter.


During Holy Week, prayer, repentance, almsgiving and fasting are said to increase in fervor and impact. The Wednesday of Holy Week is known as Spy Wednesday, which remembers Judas spying on Jesus before he betrayed him.


The Thursday before Easter is called Maundy or Holy Thursday, and commemorates Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples. In Roman Catholic tradition, Holy Thursday also marks the beginning of the three-day Easter Mass.


Two days before Easter, Good Friday marks the anniversary of Jesus' crucifixion and his burial.


Churches hold Easter vigils beginning on Holy Saturday or the morning of Easter Sunday, depending on the church. The culmination of the Lenten Season is the Easter Sunday, which is religiously marked by mass or Sunday service and an Easter feast, as well as the more commercial visit to the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunt.



When does Lent begin? (When is Ash Wednesday?)


Related Articles:
The Story of Easter
Christianity and The Origins of Easter
The Great Easter Date Debate
Greek Orthodox Easter Customs
Russian Orthodox Easter Customs
The Easter Lily


Comment
Add Comment
 
Name:
E-Mail:
Location:
Message:
 
Comments
Comment
samuel Kyalo from Kenya
00:19 03/04/2011
 
it is interesting how liturgical calender of western church is organised. thanks for all the details on the feasts within the liturgical calender especially on the lenten season which we are about to start. samel kyalo, from Kenya
Comment
peter zannu from Nigeria
06:59 03/02/2011
 
i want know more about lenten period and all other feast in the church
Comment
LoriCHawkins from Delaware, US
23:45 02/28/2011
 
Dear Lori. I could'nt find my notes but thought you might be able to use this; maybe make up a little quiz from this. Love ya' Dad
Comment
Ashley from Alabama, US
12:32 11/26/2010
 
Thanks for being unbiased and not condemning or supporting Easter! I am doing research for a short paper and a lot of the sites I have found are highly biased... calling it 'wicked' etc. Thx!
Comment
Nilda Sanchez Namuche from Spain
02:50 03/22/2010
 
Taylor, thanks for helping us about traditions related to Easter and Passover, the Christian denomination. We should be aware of these differences. As Christians, the most important fact is Jesus's Resurrection.
Comment
elijah from United States
14:02 03/18/2010
 
Thanks Taylor. Lent and Easter are not scriptural. Organised fasting is discouraged by our Lord Jesus (Matthew 6 vs 16-18). Easter originates from pagan festivals and was never commemorated by the early Apostles. All true Christians should beware of the guise of Satan. The word easter does not feature in the bible. It appears once in the Roman Catholic version, in Acts 12 vs 4. This is a wicked mis-translation by bias translators in place of Passover. Conduct your own research and not be deceived
Comment
Mg zaw from Myanmar
06:56 03/15/2010
 
i want sundays homilies for 2010
Comment
Mary Gren from Texas, US
19:58 02/20/2010
 
I lived in Abilene,Tx. & went to Faithworks there while there I saw & read Mark in the Bible very good story Iloved it so much it gave me abetter look at things. thanks Mary
Comment
yvette
10:15 02/19/2010
 
Here is a little history on Easter. Take some time and read it. I hope it will give you a little better understanding of the true meaning of easter. I love you.
Comment
savedbytheblood from Virginia, US
10:54 02/17/2010
 
To Dean Taylor: it is oftern said by christians and it's also in the bible that anything of satan can be used by god?. So The pagan festival might have used it, but it has been recycled by the Son of God (Jesus) to be used for the cleansing of our mind, body and spirits to help bring us closer to the father...hence Lent to start, and Easter to finish, and celebrate the resurrection





Easter Home | Letter 2 Easter Bunny | Did You Know Easter? | When is Easter? | Story of Easter
Easter/ Christianity | Lenten Season | Palm Sunday | Good Friday | Easter in Holy Land
Why Different Dates? | Greek Easter | Russian Easter | Easter Lily | Why Easter Eggs?
Easter Bunny & Eggs | The Easter Bunny | Carrot Patch | Easter Egg Games | Decorating Eggs+
Easter Egg Hunt | Make Easter Basket | Peeps & Easter | Easter Blog | Easter Crafts
Easter Coloring Pics | Easter Kids Page | Easter Recipes | eCards | Holiday Tweets
Newsletter/Text Msg | Advertise With Us | Link to Us | Contact Us | Site Map | Easter Home


All images, animation, text, video, java, javascript, audio, html
© Copyright © 1995-2014, Holidays on the Net
Reproduction or other use without written consent is illegal




Visit our other holiday celebrations


Sign up for Free Holiday Email Newsletters and Text Messages
Email Address:
We'll keep you informed of future Holidays on the Net Celebrations