People can get cranky when they don’t get what they want, especially over the Lenten season. So please, take pity on your Christian friends during Lent; they’re sacrificing their vices for the betterment of their health.
It’s also a “time that the Lord invites us to come back home, come back to the Church,” according to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York.
Here we’re going to look at 20 interesting facts about Lent!
- Lent is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting. Sundays aren’t included in the 40-day count.
- Since Sunday’s aren’t included, Lent technically lasts 46 days.
- When Lent started, it was only 36 days. Later, it was changed to 40 days.
- Why is Lent 40 days? The number 40 is a significant number for Christians. Jesus spent 40 days in a desert. Noah had to wait 40 days for his ark to float. And Moses, along with his followers, traveled through the wilderness for 40 years before reaching the Promised Land.
- Catholics started the tradition of Lent around the year 325, during the Council of Nicea, but it has spread through other Christian denominations. These include the following denominations: Western Orthodox Churches, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Anglicans, among others.
- Lent comes from the Middle English word “lente,” which means springtime.
- Lent starts on what’s known as Ash Wednesday. This is when followers spread ashes on their forehead to signal their repentance to God. The ashes come from burning last year’s palms that were distributed on Palm Sunday.
- One of Lent’s central components is fasting. The practice has died in recent years, but that didn’t stop New Orleans from throwing a huge party called Mardi Gras. On the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, aka “Fat Tuesday,” people party in the streets and get fat since they should be fasting for the next 40 days.
- In the Catholic tradition, followers should not eat meat from any warm-blooded animal during Lent. This rule has been relaxed to “You can’t eat meat on Fridays.”
- You CAN eat fish or other cold-blooded animals, which is why you see fast-food restaurants have sales for their fish sandwiches during Lent.
- Besides not eating meat, Christians also abstain themselves from certain vices, whether it’s chocolate or TV or video games or other pleasurable activities. In a sort of paradoxes, some even abstain from sex for 40 days, even though Christians are told to “go forth and multiply.”
- Prayer is another common practice for those practicing Lent. This, along with fasting, helps Christians stay centered in Christ and God.
- Violet is the official color of Lent, as this represents mourning for Jesus dying on the cross while also celebrating his resurrection with the colors of royalty.
- Lent doesn’t actually end on Easter; it ends on Good Thursday, the day Jesus has The Last Supper. Good Friday is when Jesus dies on the cross, and on Easter Sunday, he rises from the grave.
- All Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 should fast every Wednesday after Ash Wednesday. But don’t worry; you can still eat one regular-sized meal and two small meals and it’s still considered a fast.
- This is also a time for followers to give to charity. Catholics have given more than $250 million to feed the hungry during Lent.
- The date for Easter has been set for thousands of years. It all has to do with the full moon of the Pashal, or Passover, full moon. Easter will fall between March 22 and April 25. There are mathematical formulas you can use to determine when Easter will fall in any year.
- Because we know the date for every Easter from now until the end of time, we also know the date Lent starts. Just count 46 days (include Sundays) or 40 days (excluding Sundays) from Easter, and you know when Ash Wednesday is.
- Christian churches still fast and abstain from vices, more so than their Western counterparts. During the “Great Lent,” they cannot eat meat, fish, eggs, or butter. Any wine, oil or dairy products are also prohibited.
- In a study done in 2014, 72% of adults knew what Lent was, and 88% of those participating in Lent were giving up some item of food for 40 days. Chocolate was the number one food most people were willing to give up during Lent.