This year, lent begins on Wednesday 22nd February and ends on Thursday 6th April.
What is Lent?
Lent marks the six-week period which leads up to Easter, it begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.
Lent is 40 days during which the events leading up to, and including, the death of Jesus is remembered.
This is a period of reflection and asking for forgiveness.
This is also when Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection at an Easter feast, which marks the end of lent.
Why do people give things up until Easter Sunday?
Lent is a traditional time for fasting or giving something up.
People take part in fasting or giving something up as a sign of sacrifice or to test their self-discipline.
For Christians, this period represents Jesus’ sacrifice when he went into the desert for prayer and fasting during the 40 days before dying on the cross.
Also, in the Bible’s New Testament, whilst Jesus was in the desert, Satan tempted him to turn his back on God to worship him instead. However, Jesus refused, which is why some people may give something up for lent, to mirror or test their own self-discipline.
What do people give up during lent?
Christians around the world observe lent in many ways.
Individuals from orthodox and traditional denominations may observe the fast strictly, and abstain from eating:
Others may choose to give up simply one item for lent, such as chocolate, meat, or alcoholic drinks. Although, it is currently becoming more common to give up other things to refocus faith during this time, such as:
- Watching TV
- Going to the gym
- Social media
Giving something up or giving something back?
Lent can be celebrated in a variety of different ways, you do not have to give something up you could give something back too!
Christian charity ‘Stewardship’ run a kindness campaign called 40Acts, which is a helpful resource to allow you to impact your community. When you sign up you will receive a daily email with a generosity challenge! You can choose one of three challenge levels each day, so what level of impact you can contribute is up to you!
Each day of lent you could fill a box with an item to donate to your local food bank or women’s refuge. This could be as simple as a bag of chocolate or a box of tampons.
The ’40 black sacks’ challenge involves you filling a bin liner with as many unrequired belongings as possible, this could be as little as one item each day! The aim of this challenge is to point out how many surplus items we all have and to live more simply. At the end of lent, you will have a minimum of 40 items to donate to your local charity shop!
Will I be giving anything up for lent?
In the past, I have always tried to give up chocolate for lent, although I have never quite managed to gather enough self-discipline to reach the end of lent without having a few chocolate bars!
To try something different this year, I am trying to practice optimism more and therefore will be giving up negative comments for lent. I am sure this will be challenging but I am aware of the many benefits of being overwhelmingly positive. I hope to develop skills in always focusing on the positives within any given situation.