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Lent (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
: ''Quadragesima'', 'Fortieth') is a
solemn Solemn may refer to: *"Solemn", a song by Tribal Tech from the album ''Dr. Hee'' 1987 *"Solemn", a song by Arcane Roots from the album ''Melancholia Hymns'' 2017 See also

* Solemnity, a feast day of the highest rank in the Roman Rite {{dab ...
religious
observance
observance
in the Christian
liturgical calendar The liturgical year, also known as the church year or Christian year, as well as the kalendar, consists of the cycle of liturgical Liturgy is the customary public worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion u ...
commemorating the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew,
Mark Mark may refer to: Currency * Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark The Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (Bosnian Bosnian may refer to: *Anything related to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina or its inhabitants *Anything related to Bo ...
and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by
Satan Satan, (''śāṭān''), meaning "adversary"; grc, ὁ σατανᾶς or σατάν (''ho satanas'' or ''satan''); ar, شيطان (''shaitan''), meaning "astray", "distant", or sometimes "devil" also known as the Devil, is an entity in th ...

Satan
. This season is observed in the
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; t ...
,
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
,
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
,
Methodist Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu d ...

Methodist
,
Moravian Moravian is the adjective form of the Czech Republic region of Moravia, and refers to people of ancestry from Moravia. Moravian may also refer to: * Moravia, the region * Moravians, people from Moravia * Moravian dialects, dialects of Czech spoken ...

Moravian
,
Oriental Orthodox The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings ...
,
Reformed Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformat ...

Reformed
(including
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
and Congregationalist),
United Protestant A united church, also called a uniting church, is a church formed from the merger or other form of church union of two or more different Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a ...
and
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
Churches. Some
Anabaptist Anabaptism (from New Latin language, Neo-Latin , from the Greek language, Greek : "re-" and "baptism", german: Täufer, earlier also )Since the middle of the 20th century, the German-speaking world no longer uses the term (translation: "Re-ba ...
,
Baptist Baptists form a major branch of Protestantism, Protestant Christianity distinguished by baptizing professing Christianity, Christian believers only (believer's baptism, as opposed to infant baptism), and doing so by complete Immersion baptism, ...

Baptist
and nondenominational Christian churches also observe Lent. Which days are enumerated as being part of Lent differs between denominations (see
below Below may refer to: *Earth *Ground (disambiguation) *Soil *Floor *Bottom (disambiguation) *Less than *Temperatures below freezing *Hell or underworld People with the surname *Fred Below (1926–1988), American blues drummer *Fritz von Below (1853 ...
), although in all of them Lent is described as lasting for a total duration of 40 days. In Western Churches, Lent begins on
Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' an ...

Ash Wednesday
and ends approximately six weeks later; depending on the
Christian denomination A Christian denomination is a distinct religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a rel ...
and local custom, Lent concludes either on the evening of
Maundy Thursday Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday (also known as Great and Holy Thursday, Holy and Great Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the day during Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy W ...
, or at sundown on
Holy Saturday Holy Saturday ( la, Sabbatum Sanctum), also known as Great and Holy Saturday (also Holy and Great Saturday), the Great Sabbath, Hallelujah Saturday (in Portugal and Brazil), Saturday of the Gloria and Black Saturday (in the Philippines) or East ...
, when the
Easter Vigil Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a Christian liturgy, liturgy held in Christian worship#Sacramental tradition, traditional Christianity, Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrec ...
is celebrated. Sundays may or may not be excluded, depending on the denomination. In Eastern Churches (whether
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
,
Eastern Lutheran Eastern Lutheranism (also known as Byzantine Lutheranism or Byzantine Rite Lutheranism) refers to Lutheran Churches, such as those of Ukraine and Slovenia, that use a form of the Byzantine Rite as their liturgy. It is unique in that it is based on ...
, or
Eastern Catholic The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches and in some historical cases referred to as ''Uniates'', are twenty-three East ...
), Lent is observed continuously without interruption for 40 days starting on
Clean Monday Clean Monday ( el, Καθαρά Δευτέρα), also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first day of throughout and is a , falling on the 6th Monday before Palm Sunday which begins the Holy Week preced ...
and ending at noon of Holy Saturday. Lent is a season of grief that necessarily ends with a great celebration of Easter. Thus, it is known in
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
circles as the season of "bright sadness" ( el, χαρμολύπη, charmolypê). The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through
prayer Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity or a deified an ...
, mortifying the flesh,
repentance Repentance is reviewing one's actions and feeling contritionIn Christianity, contrition or contriteness (from the Latin ''contritus'' 'ground to pieces', i.e. crushed by guilt) is repentance for sins one has committed. The remorseful person is s ...
of sins,
almsgiving Alms (, ) or almsgiving involves giving to others as an act of virtue Virtue ( la, virtus ''Virtus'' () was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceive ...
,
simple living Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplicity, simplify one's lifestyle (sociology), lifestyle. These may include, for example, reducing one's Personal property, possessions, generally referred to as minimalism ...
, and
self-denial Self-denial (related but different from self-abnegation or self-sacrifice) is an act of letting go of the self as with Altruism, altruistic abstinence – the willingness to forgo personal pleasures or undergo personal trials in the pursuit of the ...
. In Lent, many Christians commit to
fasting Fasting is the willful refrainment from eating and sometimes drinking (see Water fasting and Juice fasting). From a purely physiology, physiological context, "fasting" may refer to the metabolism, metabolic status of a person who has not eaten o ...

fasting
, as well as giving up certain luxuries in
imitation Imitation (from Latin ''imitatio'', "a copying, imitation") is an advanced behavior whereby an individual observes and replicates another's behavior. Imitation is also a form of social learning that leads to the "development of traditions, and ...
of Jesus Christ's sacrifice during his journey into the desert for 40 days; this is known as one's
Lenten sacrifice The Lenten sacrifice refers to a pleasure or luxury that most Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life o ...
. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a
daily devotional Daily devotionals are religious publications which provide a specific spiritual reading for each calendar day. Examples include '' The Upper Room'', '' Our Daily Bread'', and '' The Word Among Us''. Lutheran Hour Ministries makes daily devotions s ...
or praying through a
Lenten calendarA Lenten calendar or Lent calendar is a special calendar used by Western Christian 250px, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the largest church building in the world today. Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity ...
, to draw themselves near to God. Often observed are the
Stations of the Cross The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of Crucifixion of Jesus, his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations ...

Stations of the Cross
, a
devotion Devotion or Devotions may refer to: In religion * Faith * Anglican devotions * Buddhist devotion * Catholic devotions * Bible study (Christian), called "devotion" by some Christian denominations * Marian devotions * Knightly Piety, Knightly Piety ...
al commemoration of and
crucifixion Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence (law), sentence ordering that someone ...
. Many churches remove flowers from their altars and veil
crucifix A crucifix (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the R ...

crucifix
es, religious statues that show the triumphant Christ, and other elaborate religious symbols in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event. In most denominations, the last week of Lent coincides with
Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy Week (: or , 'Greater Week'; el, Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, translit=Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas, lit=Holy and Great Week) is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches ...

Holy Week
, starting with
Palm Sunday Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Wee ...

Palm Sunday
. Following the New Testament narrative, Jesus'
crucifixion Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence (law), sentence ordering that someone ...

crucifixion
is commemorated on
Good Friday Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy ...
, and at the beginning of the next week the joyful celebration of
Easter Sunday Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Prayer A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many page (paper), pages (made of ...

Easter Sunday
, the start of the
Easter season , which symbolizes the empty tomb, with the Paschal greeting "Christ is risen!" File:Velika noč - jedila hren šunka pirhi potica.jpg">A Slovenian Easter breakfast with ham and nut roll is eaten before going to an Easter church service. The Ea ...
, which recalls the
Resurrection of Jesus Christ The resurrection of Jesus ( gr, ανάσταση του Ιησού) is the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity ...
. In many
Christian denominations Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...
,
Good Friday Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy ...
,
Holy Saturday Holy Saturday ( la, Sabbatum Sanctum), also known as Great and Holy Saturday (also Holy and Great Saturday), the Great Sabbath, Hallelujah Saturday (in Portugal and Brazil), Saturday of the Gloria and Black Saturday (in the Philippines) or East ...
, and
Easter Sunday Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Prayer A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many page (paper), pages (made of ...

Easter Sunday
form the
Easter Triduum The Paschal Triduum or Easter Triduum (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Thro ...
.


Etymology

The English word ''Lent'' is a shortened form of the
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
word , meaning " spring season", as its
Dutch language Dutch ( ) is a West Germanic language spoken by about 25 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting most of the population of the Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of ...
cognate (
Old Dutch In linguistics, Old Dutch or Old Low Franconian is the set of Franconian dialects (i.e. dialects that evolved from Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical ...

Old Dutch
) still does today. A dated term in
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, (
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Euro ...
), is also related. According to the ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historica ...
'', 'the shorter form (? Old Germanic type *''laŋgito''- , *''laŋgiton''-) seems to be a derivative of *''laŋgo''- long and may possibly have reference to the lengthening of the days as characterizing the season of spring'. The origin of the -''en'' element is less clear: it may simply be a
suffix In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
, or ''lencten'' may originally have been a compound of *''laŋgo''- 'long' and an otherwise little-attested word *-''tino'', meaning 'day'. In languages spoken where Christianity was earlier established, such as
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, the term signifies the period dating from the 40th weekday before Easter. In modern Greek the term is (''Sarakostí''), derived from the earlier (''Tessarakostí''), meaning "fortieth". The corresponding word in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, ("fortieth"), is the origin of the terms used in Latin-derived languages and in some others. Examples in the
Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo- ...

Romance language
group are:
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
, ,
GalicianGalician may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Galicia (Spain) ** Galician language ** Galician people ** Gallaeci, a large Celtic tribal federation who inhabited Gallaecia (currently Galicia (Spain) * Something of, from, or related to ...
,
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
,
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evol ...
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
,
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
,
SardinianSardinian refers to anything related to the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean island of Sardinia. More specifically it can refer to: *Sardinian people *History of Sardinia *Sardinian language *Sardinian literature *Music of Sardinia *Cuisine of Sardin ...
,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
, and
Walloon Walloon may refer to: * Walloons, a French-speaking population of Belgium * Walloon language * Wallonia, Walloon Region or Wallonia in Belgium ** Government of Wallonia, Walloon Government * Walloon Lake * Walloon, Queensland See also

* ''The ...
. Examples in non-Latin-based languages are:
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...

Albanian
,
Basque Basque may refer to: * Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to th ...
,
Croatian Croatian may refer to: *Croatia *Croatian cuisine *Croatian language *Croatian name *Croats, people from Croatia, or of Croatian descent *Citizens of Croatia, see demographics of Croatia See also

* Croatia (disambiguation) * Serbo-Croatian (di ...
,
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
and
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language The Goidelic or Gaelic languages ( ga, teangacha Gaelacha; gd, cànanan Goidhealach; gv, çhengaghyn Gaelgagh) form one of the two groups o ...
,
Swahili Swahili may refer to: * Swahili language, a Bantu language official in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and widely spoken in the African Great Lakes * Swahili people, an ethnic group in East Africa * Swahili culture, the culture of the Swahili people * Sw ...
,
Filipino Filipino may refer to: * Something from or related to the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas or ''Filipinas'' ), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, ...
, and
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
. In other languages, the name used refers to the activity associated with the season. Thus it is called "fasting period" in
Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A countr ...
(),
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
(), and
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
(/), and it is called "great fast" in
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
( – ''al-ṣawm al-kabīr'', literally, "the Great Fast"),
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
(),
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
( – ''vieliki post''), and
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...
( – ''velyky pist'').
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
, apart from a version based on the Latin term referring to the 40 days (see above), also has a "great fast" version: .
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
has three options, one of which means ''fasting period'', and the other two referring to the 40-day period indicated in the Latin term: , and , respectively.


Origin

Early Christianity The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religi ...
records the tradition of fasting before Easter. The
Apostolic Constitutions The ''Apostolic Constitutions'' or ''Constitutions of the Holy Apostles'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
permit the consumption of "bread, vegetables, salt and water, in Lent" with "flesh and wine being forbidden". The Canons of Hippolytus authorize only bread and salt to be consumed during
Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy Week (: or , 'Greater Week'; el, Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, translit=Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas, lit=Holy and Great Week) is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches ...

Holy Week
. The practice of fasting and abstaining from alcohol, meat and lacticinia during Lent thus became established in the Church. In AD 339, wrote that the Lenten fast was a forty-day fast that "the entire world" observed.
Saint Augustine of Hippo In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being ...

Saint Augustine of Hippo
(AD 354–AD 430) wrote that: "Our fast at any other time is voluntary; but during Lent, we sin if we do not fast." Three main prevailing theories exist on the finalization of Lent as a forty-day fast prior to the arrival of Easter Sunday: First, that it was created at the Council of Nicea in 325 and there is no earlier incarnation. Second, that it is based on an Egyptian Christian post-
theophany Theophany (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: ...
fast. Third, a combination of origins syncretized around the Council of Nicea. There are early references to periods of fasting prior to
baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

baptism
. For instance, the ''
Didache The ''Didache'' (; ), also known as The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations (Διδαχὴ Κυρίου διὰ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῖς ἔθνεσιν), is a brief anonymous Early Christiani ...

Didache
'', a 1st or 2nd-century Christian text, commends "the baptizer, the one to be baptized, and any others that are able" to fast to prepare for the sacrament. For centuries it has been common practice for baptisms to take place on Easter, and so such references were formerly taken to be references to a pre-Easter fast.
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religio ...

Tertullian
, in his 3rd-century work ''On Baptism'', indicates that Easter was a "most solemn day for baptism," however, he is only one of a handful of writers in the pre-Nicene period who indicates this preference, and even he says that Easter was by no means the only favored day for baptisms in his locale. Since the 20th century, scholars have acknowledged that Easter was not the standard day for baptisms in the early church, and references to pre-baptismal periods of fasting were not necessarily connected with Easter. There were shorter periods of fasting observed in the pre-Nicene church ( Athanasius noted that the 4th-century Alexandrian church observed a period of fasting before Pascha . However it is known that the 40-day period of fasting – the season later named Lent – before
Eastertide , which symbolizes the empty tomb The empty tomb is the Christian tradition that on the morning of the first day of the week (Easter Sunday Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Pra ...
was clarified at the Nicene Council. The
Council of LaodiceaThe Council of Laodicea was a regional synod A synod () is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word '' synod'' comes from the meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous ...
enjoins the Lenten fast as "as of strict necessity."


Date and duration

Various Christian Christian denomination, denominations calculate the 40 days of Lent differently. The way they observe Lent also differs.


Roman Catholicism

In the Roman Rite since 1970, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on
Maundy Thursday Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday (also known as Great and Holy Thursday, Holy and Great Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the day during Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy W ...
evening (before the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper). This comprises a period of 44 days. The Lenten fast excludes Sundays and continues through Good Friday and Holy Saturday, totalling 40 days (though the Eucharistic Fast still applies). Although Lent may formally end on Maundy Thursday, fasting practices continue until Holy Saturday regardless, as Lent is followed immediately by the Paschal fast leading up to Easter. In the Ambrosian Rite, Lent begins on the Sunday that follows what is celebrated as Ash Wednesday in the rest of the Latin Church, Latin Catholic Church, and ends as in the Roman Rite, thus being of 40 days, counting the Sundays but not Maundy Thursday. The day for beginning the Lenten fast is the following Monday, the first weekday in Lent. The special Ash Wednesday fast is transferred to the first Friday of the Ambrosian Lent. Until this rite was revised by Saint Charles Borromeo the liturgy of the First Sunday of Lent was festive, celebrated in white vestments with chanting of the Gloria in Excelsis and Alleluia (chant), Alleluia, in line with the recommendation in Matthew 6:16, "When you fast, do not look gloomy". See paragraph: Duration of the FastThe "Secret of the Mass" in the First Sunday of Lent – "''Sacrificium Quadragesimalis Initii''", Missale Romanum Ambrosianus During Lent, the Church discourages marriages, but couples may do so if they forgo the special blessings of the Nuptial Mass and reduced social celebrations. The period of Lent observed in the Eastern Catholic Churches corresponds to that in other churches of Eastern Christianity that have similar traditions.


Lutheranism, Moravianism, Anglicanism, Methodism, Western Orthodoxy, and Reformed Christianity

In Protestant and Western Orthodox Churches, the season of Lent lasts from
Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' an ...

Ash Wednesday
to the evening of
Holy Saturday Holy Saturday ( la, Sabbatum Sanctum), also known as Great and Holy Saturday (also Holy and Great Saturday), the Great Sabbath, Hallelujah Saturday (in Portugal and Brazil), Saturday of the Gloria and Black Saturday (in the Philippines) or East ...
. This calculation makes Lent last 46 days if the 6 Sundays are included, but only 40 days if they are excluded. This definition is still that of the Moravian Church, Lutheran World Federation, Lutheran Church, Anglican Communion, Anglican Church, World Methodist Council, Methodist Church, Reformed Churches (Continental Reformed,
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
and Congregationalist), Western-Rite Orthodox Churches, Western Rite Orthodox Church, and United Protestant Churches.


Eastern Orthodoxy and Byzantine Rite

In the Byzantine Rite, i.e., the
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
Great Lent (Greek: Μεγάλη Τεσσαρακοστή or Μεγάλη Νηστεία, meaning "Great 40 Days" and "Great Fast" respectively) is the most important fasting season in the church year. The 40 days of Great Lent includes Sundays, and begins on
Clean Monday Clean Monday ( el, Καθαρά Δευτέρα), also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first day of throughout and is a , falling on the 6th Monday before Palm Sunday which begins the Holy Week preced ...
and are immediately followed by what are considered distinct periods of fasting, Lazarus Saturday and
Palm Sunday Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Wee ...

Palm Sunday
, which in turn are followed straightway by
Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy Week (: or , 'Greater Week'; el, Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, translit=Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas, lit=Holy and Great Week) is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches ...

Holy Week
. Great Lent is broken only after the Paschal (Easter) Divine Liturgy. The Eastern Orthodox Church maintains the traditional Church's teaching on fasting. The rules for lenten fasting are the monastic rules. Fasting in the Orthodox Church is more than simply abstaining from certain foods. During the Great Lent Orthodox Faithful intensify their prayers and spiritual exercises, go to church services more often, study the Scriptures and the works of the Church Fathers in depth, limit their entertainment and spendings and focus on charity and good works.


Oriental Orthodoxy

Among the Oriental Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodox, there are various local traditions regarding Lent. Those using the Alexandrian Rite, ''i.e.'', the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Coptic Orthodox, Coptic Catholic Church, Coptic Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopian Orthodox, Ethiopian Catholic Church, Ethiopian Catholic, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eritrean Orthodox, and Eritrean Catholic Church, Eritrean Catholic Churches, observe eight continuous weeks of fasting constituting three distinct consecutive fasting periods: # a Pre-Lenten fast in preparation for Great Lent # Great Lent itself # the Paschal fast during
Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy Week (: or , 'Greater Week'; el, Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, translit=Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas, lit=Holy and Great Week) is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches ...

Holy Week
which immediately follows Lent As in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Computus, date of Easter is typically reckoned according to the Julian Calendar, and usually occurs later than Easter according to Gregorian Calendar used by Catholic and Protestant Churches.


Ethiopian Orthodoxy

In Ethiopian Orthodoxy, fasting (''tsome'') lasts for 55 continuous days before Easter (''Fasika''), although the fast is divided into three separate periods: Tsome Hirkal, eight days commemorating an early Christian figure; Tsome Arba, 40 days of Lent; and Tsome Himamat, seven days commemorating
Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy Week (: or , 'Greater Week'; el, Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, translit=Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas, lit=Holy and Great Week) is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches ...

Holy Week
. Fasting involves abstention from animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs), and refraining from eating or drinking before 3:00 pm. Ethiopian devotees may also abstain from sexual activity and the consumption of alcohol.


Quartodecimanism

Quartodeciman Christians end the fast of Lent on the Paschal full moon of the Hebrew calendar, in order to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread beginning on the 14th of Nisan, whence the name derives. For this practice, they were excommunicated in the Easter controversy of the 2nd century A.D.


Associated customs

Three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent; these are known as the three pillars of Lent: # prayer (justice towards God) #
fasting Fasting is the willful refrainment from eating and sometimes drinking (see Water fasting and Juice fasting). From a purely physiology, physiological context, "fasting" may refer to the metabolism, metabolic status of a person who has not eaten o ...

fasting
(justice towards self) #
almsgiving Alms (, ) or almsgiving involves giving to others as an act of virtue Virtue ( la, virtus ''Virtus'' () was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceive ...
(justice towards neighbours) Self-reflection, simplicity, and sincerity (honesty) are emphasised during the Lenten season.


Pre-Lenten observances


Shrovetide

During the season of Shrovetide, it is customary for Christians to ponder what
Lenten sacrifice The Lenten sacrifice refers to a pleasure or luxury that most Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life o ...
s they will make for Lent. Another hallmark of Shrovetide is the opportunity for a last round of merrymaking associated with Carnival and Fastelavn before the start of the somber Lenten season; the traditions of carrying Shrovetide rods and consuming Shrovetide buns after attending church is celebrated. On the final day of the season, Shrove Tuesday, many traditional Christians, such as Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, "make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God's help in dealing with." During Shrovetide, many churches place a basket in the narthex to collect the previous year's
Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy Week (: or , 'Greater Week'; el, Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, translit=Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas, lit=Holy and Great Week) is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches ...

Holy Week
palm branches that were blessed and distributed during the
Palm Sunday Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Wee ...

Palm Sunday
liturgies; on Shrove Tuesday, churches burn these Palm branch, palms to make the ashes used during the services held on the very next day, Ash Wednesday. In historically
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
nations, Shrovetide is known as Fastelavn. After attending the Mass (liturgy)#Lutheranism, Mass on Shrove Sunday, congregants enjoy Shrovetide buns (fastelavnsboller), "round sweet buns that are covered with icing and filled with cream and/or jam." Children often dress up and collect money from people while singing. They also practice the tradition of hitting a barrel, which represents fighting Satan; after doing this, children enjoy the sweets inside the barrel. Lutheran Christians in these nations carry Shrovetide rods (fastelavnsris), which "branches decorated with sweets, little presents, etc., that are used to decorate the home or give to children." In English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada, the day before Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday, which is derived from the word ''shrive'', meaning "to administer the sacrament of Confession (religion), confession to; to absolve". In these countries, pancakes are associated with Shrove Tuesday because they are a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar – rich foods which are not eaten during the season.


Mardi Gras and carnival celebrations

''Mardi Gras'' ("Fat Tuesday") refers to events of the Carnival celebration, beginning on or after the feast of Epiphany and culminating on the day before Lent. The carnival celebrations which in many cultures traditionally precede Lent are seen as a last opportunity for excess before Lent begins. Some of the most famous are the Carnival of Barranquilla, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Carnival of Venice, Cologne Carnival, the New Orleans Mardi Gras, the Rio de Janeiro carnival, and the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.


Pre-Lenten fasting

In stark contrast to traditions of merrymaking and feasting, Oriental Orthodox Churches practice a Pre-Lenten fast in preparation for Lent which is immediately followed by the fast of Great Lent without interruption.


Fasting and Lenten sacrifice

There are traditionally 40 days in Lent; these are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. Fasting is maintained for all forty days of Lent (regardless of how they are enumerated; see #Date and duration, above). Historically, fasting has been maintained continuously for the whole Lenten season, including Sundays. In what is known as one's
Lenten sacrifice The Lenten sacrifice refers to a pleasure or luxury that most Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life o ...
, Christians give up partaking in personal luxuries (e.g. watching television) and often invest the time or money saved in Charitable cause, charitable purposes or organizations. During Shrovetide and especially on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of the Lenten season, many Christians finalize their decision with respect to what
Lenten sacrifice The Lenten sacrifice refers to a pleasure or luxury that most Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life o ...
s they will make for Lent. Examples include practicing Christian vegetarianism, vegetarianism and teetotalism during Lent as a Lenten sacrifice. While making a Lenten sacrifice, it is customary to Christian prayer, pray for strength to keep it; many often wish others for doing so as well, e.g. "May God bless your Lenten sacrifice." In addition, some believers add a regular spiritual discipline, to bring them closer to God, such as reading a Lenten
daily devotional Daily devotionals are religious publications which provide a specific spiritual reading for each calendar day. Examples include '' The Upper Room'', '' Our Daily Bread'', and '' The Word Among Us''. Lutheran Hour Ministries makes daily devotions s ...
. For Lutherans, Moravians, Anglicans, Methodists, Roman Catholics, United Protestants, and Reformed Christians, the Lenten penitential season ends after the
Easter Vigil Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a Christian liturgy, liturgy held in Christian worship#Sacramental tradition, traditional Christianity, Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrec ...
Mass (liturgy), Mass or Sunrise service. Orthodox Christians also break their fast after the Paschal Vigil, a service which starts around 11:00 pm on Holy Saturday, and which includes the Paschal celebration of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. At the end of the service, the priest blesses cheese, eggs, flesh meats, and other items that the faithful have been abstaining from for the duration of Great Lent. Lenten traditions and liturgical practices are less common, less binding, and sometimes non-existent among some liberal and progressive Christians. A greater emphasis on anticipation of
Easter Sunday Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Prayer A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many page (paper), pages (made of ...

Easter Sunday
is often encouraged more than the penitence of Lent or Holy Week. Some Christians as well as secular groups also interpret the Lenten fast in a positive tone, not as renunciation but as contributing to causes such as environmental stewardship and improvement of health. Even some atheists find value in the Christian tradition and observe Lent. In cultivation of vegetables in a temperate oceanic climate in the northern hemisphere, Lent corresponds partly with the hungry gap.


Lenten Black Fast

Historically, using the early Christian form known as the Black Fast, the observant does not consume food for a whole day until the evening, and at sunset, Christians traditionally break the Lenten fast of that day with supper (no food is consumed in a day apart from the Lenten supper). In India and Pakistan, many Christians continue this practice of fasting until sunset on
Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' an ...

Ash Wednesday
and
Good Friday Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy ...
, with many fasting in this manner throughout the whole season of Lent.


Lenten supper

After attending a worship service (often on Wednesday and Friday evenings), it is common for Christians of various denominations to conclude that day's Lenten fast together through a communal Lenten supper, which is held in the church's parish hall; Lenten suppers ordinarily take place in the home setting during the forty days of Lent during which a family (or individual) concludes that day's fast after a grace (prayer), mealtime prayer.


Abstinence from meat and animal produce

Fasting has been historically included abstinence from wine, meat, and lacticinia (all things coming from flesh such as milk, butter, cheese, and eggs) has been enjoined continuously for the whole duration of the season including Sundays. Throughout Christendom, some adherents continue to mark the season with a traditional abstention from the consumption of meat, most notably among Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and Anglicans. The form of abstention may vary depending on what is customary; some abstain from meat for 40 days, some do so only on Fridays, or some only on Good Friday itself. By pontifical decree under Pope Alexander VI, eggs and dairy products may be consumed by penitents in Spain and its colonised territories. However, until 1741, meat and lacticinia (products derived from animals such as eggs and dairy products) were otherwise forbidden for the whole season of Lent, including Sundays; in that year, Pope Benedict XIV allowed for the consumption of meat and lacticinia during certain fasting days of Lent. Dispensations for the allowance of certain foods have been given throughout history, depending on the climate in that part of the world; for example, Giraldus Cambrensis, in his ''Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales'', reports that "in Germany and the arctic regions", "great and religious persons" eat the tail of beavers as "fish" because of its superficial resemblance to "both the taste and colour of fish". The animal was very abundant in Wales at the time. Saint Thomas Aquinas allowed for the consumption of candy during Lent, because "sugared spices" (such as comfits) were, in his opinion, digestive aids on par with medicine rather than food. In current Western societies the practice is considerably relaxed, though in the Eastern Orthodox,
Oriental Orthodox The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings ...
,
Eastern Catholic The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches and in some historical cases referred to as ''Uniates'', are twenty-three East ...
, and Byzantine Rite Lutheranism, Eastern Lutheran Churches abstinence from all animal products including eggs, fish, fowl, and milk sourced from animals (e.g., cows and goats, as opposed to the milk of coconuts and soy beans) is still commonly practiced, so that, where this is observed, only vegetarian (or vegan) meals are consumed for the whole of Lent, 48 days in the Byzantine Rite. The Fasting and abstinence in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s practices require a fasting period that is a great deal longer and there is some dispute over whether fish consumption is permissible. In the traditions of the Western Christianity, abstinence from eating some form of food (generally meat, but not dairy or fish products) is distinguished from fasting. In principle, abstinence is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on every Friday of the year that is not a solemnity (a liturgical feast day of the highest rank); but in each country the episcopal conference can determine the form it is to take, perhaps replacing abstinence with other forms of penance.


Sexual abstinence

Historically, Christians abstained from sexual relations during the whole of Lent. In Spain, according to researchers from the University of Valencia and the University of Alcalá, University of Alcalà, a custom of abstaining from sexual relations was widely practiced until the end of the Franco regime, Franco régime, though some Christians voluntarily continue this practice today, and denominations such as the Greek Orthodox Church continue to require abstinence from sexual relations during Lent.


Catholicism

For Roman Catholics before 1966, the obligation of the penitential fast was to take only one full meal a day, throughout all forty days of Lent, except on the Lord's Day. In addition, a smaller meal, called a Collation (meal), collation (which was introduced after the 14th century A.D.), was allowed, and a cup of some beverage, accompanied by a little bread, in the morning. The 1917 Code of Canon Law allowed the full meal on a fasting day to be taken at any hour and to be supplemented by two collations, with the quantity and the quality of the food to be determined by local custom. Abstinence from meat was to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays and Saturdays in Lent. The Lenten fast ended on
Holy Saturday Holy Saturday ( la, Sabbatum Sanctum), also known as Great and Holy Saturday (also Holy and Great Saturday), the Great Sabbath, Hallelujah Saturday (in Portugal and Brazil), Saturday of the Gloria and Black Saturday (in the Philippines) or East ...
at noon. Only those aged 21 to 59 were obliged to fast. As with all ecclesiastical laws, particular difficulties, such as strenuous work or illness, excused one from observance, and a dispensation from the law could be granted by a bishop or parish priest. A rule of thumb is that the two collations should not add up to the equivalent of another full meal. Rather portions were to be: "sufficient to sustain strength, but not sufficient to satisfy hunger". In 1966, Pope Paul VI reduced the obligatory fasting days from all forty days of Lent to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstinence days to Fridays and Ash Wednesday, and allowed episcopal conferences to replace abstinence and fasting with other forms of penitence such as charity and piety, as declared and established in his apostolic constitution ''Paenitemini''; fasting on all forty days of Lent is still "strongly recommended", though not under pain of mortal sin. This was done so that those in countries where the standard of living is lower can replace fasting with prayer, but "…where economic well-being is greater, so much more will the witness of asceticism have to be given…" This was made part of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which made obligatory fasting for those aged between 18 and 59, and abstinence for those aged 14 and upward. The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference decided to allow other forms of Friday penance to replace that of abstinence from meat, whether in Lent or outside Lent, suggesting alternatives such as abstaining from some other food, or from alcohol or smoking; making a special effort at participating in family prayer or in Mass; making the
Stations of the Cross The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of Crucifixion of Jesus, his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations ...

Stations of the Cross
; or helping the poor, sick, old, or lonely. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales made a similar ruling in 1985 but decided in 2011 to restore the traditional year-round Friday abstinence from meat. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has maintained the rule of abstention from meat on Friday only during Lent and considers poultry to be a type of meat but not fish or shellfish. The Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (CMRI), a Sedevacantist Roman Catholic religious congregation, requires fasting for its members on all of the forty days of the Christian season of repentance, Lent (except on the Lord's Day); in addition to this, the CMRI mandates under the pain of grave sin, abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and all Fridays of the year in general. Even during Lent, the rule about solemnities holds, so that the obligation of Friday abstinence does not apply on 19 and 25 March when, as usually happens, the solemnities of Saint Joseph's Day#Catholic traditions, Saint Joseph and the Annunciation are celebrated on those dates. The same applies to Saint Patrick's Day, which is a solemnity in the whole of Ireland as well as in dioceses that have Saint Patrick as principal patron saint. In some other places, too, where there are strong Irish traditions within the Catholic community, a dispensation is granted for that day. In Hong Kong, where Ash Wednesday often coincides with Chinese New Year celebrations, a dispensation is then granted from the laws of fast and abstinence, and the faithful are exhorted to use some other form of penance.


Lutheranism

After the Protestant Reformation, in the Lutheran Church, "Church orders of the 16th century retained the observation of the Lenten fast, and Lutherans have observed this season with a serene, earnest attitude." Many
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
churches advocate fasting during Lent, especially on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. ''A Handbook for the Discipline of Lent'' delineates the following Lutheran fasting guidelines: The Augsburg Confession, a confession of faith in Lutheranism, teaches, with regard to fasting: "And true prayers, true alms, true fastings, have God’s command; and where they have God’s command, they cannot without sin be omitted. (Apology of the Augsburg Confession VI)"


Moravian Church

Members of the Moravian Church voluntarily fast during the season of Lent, along with making a
Lenten sacrifice The Lenten sacrifice refers to a pleasure or luxury that most Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life o ...
for the season as a form of penitence.


Reformed Churches

Many of the Churches in the Reformed tradition retained the Lenten fast in its entirety. The Reformed Church in America describes the first day of Lent,
Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' an ...

Ash Wednesday
, as a day "focused on prayer, fasting, and repentance" and considers fasting a focus of the whole Lenten season, as demonstrated in the "Invitation to Observe a Lenten Discipline", found in the Reformed liturgy for the Ash Wednesday service, which is read by the presider:
Good Friday Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy ...
, which is towards the end of the Lenten season, is traditionally an important day of communal fasting for adherents of the Reformed faith. In the Anglican Communion, Anglican Churches, the Saint Augustine's Prayer Book, Traditional Saint Augustine's Prayer Book: A Book of Devotion for Members of the Anglican Communion, a companion to the Book of Common Prayer, states that fasting is "usually meaning not more than a light breakfast, one full meal, and one half meal, on the forty days of Lent". It further states that "the major Fast Days of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as the American Prayer-Book indicates, are stricter in obligation, though not in observance, than the other Fast Days, and therefore should not be neglected except in cases of serious illness or other necessity of an absolute character."


Methodist Churches

The historic Methodist homilies regarding the Sermon on the Mount stress the importance of the Lenten fast, which begins on Ash Wednesday. The United Methodist Church therefore states that:
Good Friday Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy ...
, which is towards the end of the Lenten season, is traditionally an important day of communal fasting for Methodists. Rev. Jacqui King, the minister of Nu Faith Community United Methodist Church in Houston explained the philosophy of fasting during Lent as "I'm not skipping a meal because in place of that meal I'm actually dining with God". The United Methodist Church teaches, in reference to one's
Lenten sacrifice The Lenten sacrifice refers to a pleasure or luxury that most Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life o ...
, that "On each Lord's Day in Lent, while Lenten fasts continue, the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection."


Other related fasting periods

The number 40 has many Biblical references: *Moses spent 40 days on Biblical Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai with God in Christianity, God *Elijah spent 40 days and nights walking to Mount Horeb * God sent 40 days and nights of rain in the great flood of Noah * The Hebrew people wandered 40 years in the desert while traveling to the Promised Land *Jonah's prophecy of judgment gave 40 days to the city of Nineveh in which to repent or be destroyed * Jesus retreated into the wilderness, where He fasted for 40 days, and was Temptation of Christ, tempted by the Devil in Christianity, devil. He overcame all three of Satan's temptations by citing scripture to the devil, at which point the devil left him, angels ministered to Jesus, and He began His Christian ministry, ministry. Jesus further said that His disciples should fast "when the bridegroom shall be taken from them", a reference to his Passion. * Since, presumably, the Apostles fasted as they mourned the death of Jesus, Christians have traditionally fasted during the annual commemoration of his burial. * It is the traditional belief that Jesus lay for 40 hours in the tomb, which led to the 40 hours of total fasting that preceded the Easter celebration in the Early Christianity, early Church (the biblical reference to 'three days in the tomb' is understood by them as ''spanning'' three days, from Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning, rather than three 24-hour periods of time). Some Christian denominations, such as The Way International and Logos Apostolic Church of God, as well as Anglicanism, Anglican scholar E. W. Bullinger in ''The Companion Bible'', believe Christ was in the grave for a total of 72 hours, reflecting the Typology (theology), type of Jonah in the belly of the whale. One of the most important ceremonies at Easter is the
baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

baptism
of the initiates on Easter Eve. The fast was initially undertaken by the catechumens to prepare them for the reception of this sacrament. Later, the period of fasting from
Good Friday Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy ...
until Easter Day was extended to six days, to correspond with the six weeks of training necessary to give the final instruction to those Religious conversion, converts who were to be baptized. Conversion to Christianity, Converts to Christianity followed a strict catechumenate or period of instruction and discipline prior to receiving the sacrament of
baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

baptism
, sometimes lasting up to three years. In Jerusalem near the close of the fourth century, classes were held throughout Lent for three hours each day. With the legalization of Christianity (by the Edict of Milan) and its later imposition as the state religion of the Roman Empire, its character was endangered by the great influx of new members. In response, the Lenten fast and practices of Asceticism#Christianity, self-renunciation were required annually of all Christians, both to show solidarity with the catechumens, and for their own spiritual benefit.


Prayer and devotion

A common practice is the singing of the Stabat Mater hymn in designated groups. Among Filipino Catholics, the recitation of the epic of Christ' passion, called ''Pasiong Mahal'', is also observed. In some Christian countries, grand religious processions and cultural customs are observed, and the faithful attempt to Seven Churches Visitation, visit seven churches during Holy Week to pray the
Stations of the Cross The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of Crucifixion of Jesus, his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations ...

Stations of the Cross
and pray at each church's Altar of Repose.


Omission of Gloria and Alleluia

The ''Gloria in excelsis Deo'', which is usually said or sung on Sundays at Mass (liturgy), Mass (or Communion) of the Roman Rite, Roman,
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
and Anglicanism, Anglican rites, is omitted on the Sundays of Lent (as well as Sundays of Advent), but continues in use on solemnity, solemnities and Ranking of liturgical days in the Roman Rite, feasts and on special celebrations of a more solemn kind. Some Mass (music), Mass compositions were written especially for Lent, such as Michael Haydn's ''Missa tempore Quadragesimae (Michael Haydn), Missa tempore Quadragesimae'', without Gloria, in D minor, and for modest forces, only choir and organ. The Gloria is used on
Maundy Thursday Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday (also known as Great and Holy Thursday, Holy and Great Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the day during Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy W ...
, to the accompaniment of bells, which then fall silent until the ''Gloria in excelsis'' of the
Easter Vigil Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a Christian liturgy, liturgy held in Christian worship#Sacramental tradition, traditional Christianity, Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrec ...
. The Lutheran Divine Service (Lutheran), Divine Service, the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Churches, and the Presbyterian service of worship associate the ''Alleluia'' with joy and omit it entirely throughout Lent, not only at Mass but also in the canonical hours and outside the liturgy. The word "Alleluia" at the beginning and end of the Acclamation Before the Gospel (liturgy), Gospel at Mass is replaced by another phrase. Before 1970, the omission began with Septuagesima, and the whole Acclamation was omitted and was replaced by a Tract (liturgy), Tract; and in the Liturgy of the Hours the word "Alleluia", normally added to the ''Gloria Patri'' at the beginning of each Hour – now simply omitted during Lent – was replaced by the phrase ''Laus tibi, Domine, rex aeternae gloriae (Praise to you, O Lord, king of eternal glory)''. Until the Ambrosian Rite was revised by Saint Charles Borromeo the liturgy of the First Sunday of Lent was festive, celebrated with chanting of the Gloria and Alleluia, in line with the recommendation in Matthew 6:16, "When you fast, do not look gloomy". In the Byzantine Rite, the Gloria (Great Doxology) continues to be used in its normal place in the Matins service, and the Alleluia appears all the more frequently, replacing "God is the Lord" at Matins.


Veiling of religious images

In certain pious Christian states, in which liturgical forms of Christianity predominate, religious objects were traditionally veiled for the entire 40 days of Lent. Though perhaps uncommon in the United States of America, this pious practice is consistently observed in Goa, India, Goa, Malta, Peru, the Philippines (the latter only for the entire duration of Holy Week, with the exception of processional images), and in the Spanish cities: Barcelona, Málaga, and Seville. In Ireland, before Vatican II, when impoverished rural Catholic convents and parishes could not afford purple fabrics, they resorted to either removing the statues altogether or, if too heavy or bothersome, turned the statues to face the wall. As is popular custom, the 14
Stations of the Cross The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of Crucifixion of Jesus, his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations ...

Stations of the Cross
plaques on the walls are not veiled. Crosses were often adorned with jewels and gemstones, the form referred to as ''Crux Gemmata''. To keep the faithful from adoring the crucifixes elaborated with ornamentation, veiling it in royal purple fabrics came into place. The violet colour later evolved as a color of penance and mourning. Further liturgical changes in modernity reduced such observances to the last week of Passiontide. In parishes that could afford only small quantities of violet fabrics, only the heads of the statues were veiled. If no violet fabrics could be afforded at all, then the religious statues and images were turned around facing the wall. Flowers were always removed as a sign of solemn mourning. In the Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), pre-1992 Methodist liturgy and pre-1970 forms of the Roman Rite, the last two weeks of Lent are known as Passiontide, a period beginning on the Fifth Sunday in Lent, which in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal is called the First Sunday in Passiontide and in earlier editions Passion Sunday. All statues (and in England paintings as well) in the church were traditionally veiled in violet. This was seen as in keeping with John 8:46–59, the Gospel of that Sunday, in which Jesus "hid himself" from the people. Within many churches in the United States of America, after the Second Vatican Council, the need to veil statues or crosses became increasingly irrelevant and was deemed unnecessary by some diocesan bishops. As a result, the veils were removed at the singing of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo during the Easter Vigil. In 1970, the name "Passiontide" was dropped, although the last two weeks are markedly different from the rest of the season, and continuance of the tradition of veiling images is left to the discretion of a country's conference of bishops or even to individual parishes as pastors may wish. On
Good Friday Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy ...
, the Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist churches traditionally veiled "all pictures, statutes, and the cross are covered in mourning black", while "the chancel and altar coverings are replaced with black, and altar candles are extinguished". The fabrics are then "replaced with white on sunrise on
Easter Sunday Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Prayer A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many page (paper), pages (made of ...

Easter Sunday
".


Vestments

In the Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Roman Catholic, and many Anglican churches, the pastor's vestments are violet during the season of Lent. Roman Catholic priests wear white vestments on solemnity days for St. Joseph (March 19) and the Annunciation (March 25), although these solemnities get transferred to another date if they fall on a Sunday in Lent or at any time during Holy Week. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, rose-coloured (pink) vestments may be worn in lieu of violet. Historically, black had also been used: Pope Innocent III declared black to be the proper color for Lent, though Durandus of Saint-Pourçain claims violet has preference over black. In some Anglican churches, a type of unbleached linen or muslin known as "Lenten array" is worn during the first three weeks of Lent, crimson is worn during Passiontide, and on holy days, the colour proper to the day is worn. In certain other Anglican churches, as an alternative to violet for all of Lent except Holy Week and red beginning on Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday, Lenten array, typically made of sackcloth such as burlap and trimmed with crimson cloth, often velvet, is worn, even during Holy Week—since the sackcloth represents penance and the crimson edges represent the Passion of Christ. Even the veils that cover the altar crosses or crucifixes and statuary (if any) are made of the same sackcloth with the crimson trim.


Holy days within the season of Lent

There are several holy days within the season of Lent: *
Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' an ...

Ash Wednesday
is the first day of Lent in Western Christianity, such as the Lutheran Churches, Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Methodist Churches,
Reformed Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformat ...

Reformed
traditions, etc. * Lenten Sundays # In the Ambrosian Rite and the Mozarabic Rite, there is no Ash Wednesday: Lent begins on the first Sunday and the fast begins on the first Monday. #
  • The fourth Sunday in Lent, which marks the halfway point between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, is referred to as Laetare Sunday by Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and many other Christians, because of the traditional Entrance Antiphon of the Mass. Due to the more "joyful" character of the day (since ''laetare'' in Latin means "rejoice"), the priest, deacon, and subdeacon have the option of wearing vestments of a rose colour (pink) instead of violet.
  • #* Additionally, the fourth Lenten Sunday, Mothering Sunday, which has become known as Mother's Day in the United Kingdom and an occasion for honouring mothers of children, has its origin in a 16th-century celebration of the Mother Church. #* The fourth Sunday of Lent has also been called "Rosalia (festival)#Rose Sundays, Rose Sunday"; on this day the Pope blesses the Golden Rose, a jewel in the shape of a rose. # The fifth Sunday in Lent, also known in some denominations as Passion Sunday (and in some denominations also applies to
    Palm Sunday Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Wee ...

    Palm Sunday
    ) marks the beginning of Passiontide. # The sixth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
    Palm Sunday Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Wee ...

    Palm Sunday
    , marks the beginning of
    Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy Week (: or , 'Greater Week'; el, Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, translit=Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas, lit=Holy and Great Week) is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches ...

    Holy Week
    , the final week of Lent immediately preceding Easter. :* The Sundays in Lent carry Latin names in German Lutheranism, derived from the beginning of the Sunday's introit. The first is called Invocabit, the second Reminiscere, the third Oculi, the fourth Laetare Sunday, Laetare, the fifth Judica, the sixth
    Palm Sunday Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Wee ...

    Palm Sunday
    . * Wednesday of Holy Week, Holy Wednesday (also sometimes known as Spy Wednesday) commemorates Judas Iscariot's bargain to betray Jesus. * Thursday of Holy Week is known as
    Maundy Thursday Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday (also known as Great and Holy Thursday, Holy and Great Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the day during Holy Week In some traditions of , Holy W ...
    or Holy Thursday, and is a day Christians commemorate the Last Supper shared by Christ with his Disciple (Christianity), disciples. * The next day is
    Good Friday Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy ...
    , which begins the Easter Triduum; on this day Christians remember Jesus'
    crucifixion Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence (law), sentence ordering that someone ...

    crucifixion
    , death, and burial.


    Easter Triduum

    In the Anglican, Lutheran, Old Catholic, Roman Catholic, and many other churches, the
    Easter Triduum The Paschal Triduum or Easter Triduum (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Thro ...
    is a three-day event that begins Maundy Thursday evening, with the entrance hymn of the Mass of the Lord's Supper. After this celebration, the consecrated host (liturgy), Hosts are taken solemnly from the altar to a place of reposition, where the faithful are invited to meditate in the presence of the consecrated Hosts.This is the Church's response to Jesus' question to the disciples sleeping in the Gethsemane, Garden of Gethsemane, "Could you not watch with me one hour?" On the next day, the liturgical commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ is celebrated at 3 pm, unless a later time is chosen due to work schedules. This service consists of readings from the Bible, Scriptures, especially John the Evangelist's account of the Passion (Christianity), Passion of Jesus, followed by prayers, veneration of the cross of Jesus, and a communion service at which the hosts consecrated at the evening Mass of the day before are distributed. The
    Easter Vigil Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a Christian liturgy, liturgy held in Christian worship#Sacramental tradition, traditional Christianity, Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrec ...
    during the night between Holy Saturday afternoon and Easter Sunday morning starts with the blessing of a fire and a special candle, and with readings from Scripture associated with
    baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

    baptism
    . Then, the Gloria in Excelsis Deo is sung, water is blessed, baptism and confirmation of adults may take place, the people are invited to renew the promises of their own baptism, and finally, Mass is celebrated in the usual way from the Preparation of the Gifts onwards. Holy Week and the season of Lent, depending on Christian denomination, denomination and local Convention (norm), custom, end with Easter Vigil at sundown on Holy Saturday or on the morning of Easter Sunday. It is custom for some churches to hold sunrise services which include open air celebrations in some places.


    Media coverage

    In the United Kingdom, BBC's Radio Four normally broadcasts during Lent a series of programmes called the ''Lent Talks''. These 15-minute programmes are normally broadcast on a Wednesday and have featured various speakers, such as Christian apologist John Lennox.


    See also


    References


    External links


    Daily Lenten Devotional – Lutheran Hour Ministries

    Methodist Church: Lent and Easter ResourcesSimply Catholic – Your Guide to a Catholic Lent: Everything You Need for a More Spiritual Lent
    {{Authority control Lent, Christian terminology Christian fasting March observances