The meaning of Lent. What is Lent all about?
Lent is a season of the Christian year leading up to holy week and Easter. It begins with Ash Wednesday and pancake day is the day before Lent begins. Lent is a time when Christians who follow Jesus remember the time when he went into the wilderness and fasted. Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights, and the Bible tells us that he was tempted by the devil. After his time in the wilderness (or desert) he began his preaching and teaching ministry when he was 30 years old. Christians traditionally fast during lent, but it is different from total abstinence from food and drink. Christians practice self-denial during the Lenten fast. They choose something that they like a lot and don't eat it or drink it until Easter day. Some abstain from eating chocolate, crisps, fizzy pop, alcohol, biscuits, sweets, or other things.
Other Christians understand self-denial differently. They give up some of their time or money. They try to do something to help others, or to share their faith with others. This might not seem much like fasting, but it is a form of self-denial, of doing things differently, or doing things that you might not normally want to do. It is possible to give something up other than food or drink - going to the cinema, using the computer or mobile phone, watching television. What would you think about giving up for Lent? How long does Lent last? Most people would say that Lent lasts for 40 days, and that IS true, but from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day is more than 40 days - it is 47 days long. There is an explanation for this - on each Sunday the Church celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, when he came back to life from the dead, and it is a feast day. Sundays don't count as part of Lent - whatever you give up for Lent you can enjoy on Sundays, although some people would think that is cheating.
Lent is a special time when Christians prepare for Easter day. The last week of Lent is extra special and is called Holy Week. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, and the highlights are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. More about those special days later.