What, Why, Who, Where and How of LENT

 In Christianity, Judaism

What, Why, Who, Where and How of LENT

  • Lent (from the Old English lencten for spring) is an effort to relive Jesus’s 40-day fast in the wilderness and is regarded as a time of penitential preparation for Easter.
  •  Catholic Lent is a period of 40 days, not including Sundays, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending at midnight on Easter Saturday.
  • This works out to six weeks plus four days. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence. Fridays are days of abstinence.
  • Both the eastern and western churches observe Lent but they count the 40 days differently. The western church excludes Sundays (which is celebrated as the day of Christ’s resurrection) whereas the eastern church includes them.
  • The churches also start Lent on different days. Western churches start Lent on the 7th Wednesday before Easter Day (called Ash Wednesday).
  • Eastern churches start Lent on the Monday of the 7th week before Easter and end it on the Friday 9 days before Easter.
  • Eastern churches call this period the ‘Great Lent‘. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week.
  • Orthodox Lent is 50 days long. All days are days of abstinence, 43 are also fast days.
  • Russian Orthodox observe the 48 days of Lent by not drinking alcohol or eating food that comes from animals such as meat, milk or eggs and or products that contains these things, even milk chocolate. The consumption of red wine and seafood is okay on certain dates.
  • Carnival is a celebration that generally runs for three days to ten days before Lent. It features parades, pageants, street shows and grand balls. People often wear masks and costumes. Mardis Gras is another name for Carnival.
  • Lent period of 40 days is a significant number in Jewish-Christian scripture: In Genesis, the flood which destroyed the earth was brought about by 40 days and nights of rain.
  • The Hebrews spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the land promised to them by God.
  • Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai.
  • Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry.
  • Most Christians regard Jesus’ time in the wilderness as the key event for the duration of Lent.
  • Purple is the symbolic colour used in some churches throughout Lent, for drapes and altar frontals.
  • Purple is used for two reasons: firstly because it is associated with mourning and so anticipates the pain and suffering of the crucifixion, and secondly, because purple is the colour associated with royalty, and celebrates Christ’s resurrection and sovereignty.
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