What is Lent?

When does Lent begin?:

Lent begins 40 days prior to Easter (not counting Sundays). The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday. The 40 days is significant, as it commemorates the 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert and the 40 years the Israelites spent roaming in the desert prior to entering the Holy Land. Since Sundays are a time of celebration representing the resurrection in Christianity, they are not included in the 40 days.

When does Lent end?:

Lent Ends the day before Easter Sunday, also known as Holy Saturday. Palm Sunday marks the last week of Lent and commemorates the day Jesus entered Jerusalem to people laying palms at his feet. However, Roman Catholics end Lent at sundown on Holy Thursday when the Mass of the Lord's Supper begins.

How is Lent celebrated?:

Two things occur during Lent - fasting and prayer. It used to be that fasting was the giving up of food, but today many Christian teens give up other items such as television or the Internet. Orthodox Christians give up both meat and dairy products during Lent. The fasting is used to remind Christians of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and being tempted by Satan.

Who celebrates Lent?:

There are several Christian denominations that do not celebrate Lent, but mainly Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches observe Lent.

In the Eastern Orthodox church, Lent begins on Monday, and they do not celebrate Ash Wednesday. Other denominations have chosen not to observe the holiday.