Lent, as many people know, is the 40 day period leading up to Easter. For many it’s a time of abstinence, for others it’s the lead up to unwrapping chocolate eggs.
Here are some facts about Lent that might surprise you:
1. The word Lent has nothing to do with fasting or giving things up
‘Lent’ is a shortened version of the Old English word ‘lencten’, a word which simply means spring (in relation to the season). It is thought to have Germanic roots and seems likely to have been used to described the season when the days began to lengthen, signifying new life and renewal.
2. Lent was originally 36 days long
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 46 days up until Easter Sunday (although officially the Lent fast is only 40 days long as Sundays aren’t included). However, it was not like this ealier – Lent started out as just the six week period (still excluding Sundays) in the lead up to Easter, so the fast was only 36 days long! Lent was then extended to 40 days (which is why it begins on Ash Wednesday) to help Christians remember the time Christ spent in the wilderness during which time He avoided temptation at the hands of the Devil and as He prepared for his ministry, death and resurrection.
3. Lent is about fasting and spiritual growth
Most people associate Lent with giving up things. Some people give up chocolate, sugary drinks, meat, alcohol, cigarettes and some even give up modern day indulgences like videogames or social media in a bid to exercise self-control. They try to spend more time focussing on what is important in life. Hundreds of years ago this practice started as people gave up meat, fish, eggs, wine, oil, butter and other dairy products. While many Christians have moved away from this practice, this is still seen in many Churches and communities across the world, following a much stricter fast.
4. Lent is also about doing good
Lent isn’t just about remembering Christ’s suffering – it’s a time in which believers try to be the best Christian they can possibly be.
5. Mother’s Day is actually a part of Lent
Lent is the build-up to Easter and Easter is a celebration of Christ’s rebirth. What better a thing to celebrate during the fourth Sunday of Lent than mothers?
6. Good Friday is a bit of a strange name
The term “Good Friday” seems a bit strange at first glance given that it is the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. Scholars continue to debate the correct origin of the word good; some attribute it as meaning Holy, or Pious, – but either definition hints at the significance of the day. Good Friday is certainly the holiest Friday of any given year.