When does Lent end and why do we give things up during the period?

MANY think of Lent as a time to give up something, such as chocolate or alcohol, but it's also an important event in the Christian calendar.

Let’s take a closer look at why it is so important and why people give up one of their vices during this time…

When does Lent start in 2021?

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday – which in 2021 was February 17.

Its exact date changes each year because it is determined by when Easter is.

Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

Ash Wednesday is always the day after Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day.

Lent lasts 40 days with the Sundays seen as celebrations and not counted.

When does Lent end 2021?

It officially ends on Maundy Thursday, which in 2021 is April 1.

Maundy Thursday marks Jesus Christ’s last supper and the initiation of the Eucharist.

It was a tradition for the monarch in England to wash the feet of the poor and kiss them on Maundy Thursday.

Nowadays the monarch hands out Maundy Money on the day.

Despite its significance in the Christian calendar it is not a bank holiday.

Good Friday is also traditionally a day of fasting and penance.

However, most people who have given things up for Lent, choose to carry on until Easter Sunday.

What is Lent?

Lent is the six-week period leading up to Easter Sunday.

The actual length is 46 days – however, 40 of these are fasting days and six are Sundays.

Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter".

The period of Lent is seen as a time of solemn observance and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

From its start on Ash Wednesday until its official conclusion on Maundy Thursday, Lent has been a traditional time for fasting, giving something up, or abstinence.

The word Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring".

The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

It can also be seen to mirror the 40 hours that Jesus spent in the tomb prior to his resurrection.

Why do we give things up during Lent?

Many Christians will use Lent to commit to fasting, choosing to abstain from certain foods, habits or vices.

The fasting and abstinence is meant to mirror the experience of Jesus Christ and his experience of fasting in the desert.

Traditionally, Christians would fast during the 40 days of Lent, meaning they would have only one full meal a day and two small snacks.

However, nowadays Christians choose to abstain from something in particular – like a food item or luxury like chocolate or caffeine, or a particular habit like drinking or smoking.

In today’s technological age, others choose to give up social media or even using their phones.

Generally, those observing Lent will also aim to perform one positive act for each of the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

These "positive acts" can include calling up someone who is alone, donating to a worthy cause, clearing up after dinner and letting someone go ahead of you in a supermarket queue.

Or if you don't know what to do, you can sign up to website 40 acts of kindness, which will send you an email each day featuring deeds such as bless the boss, give blood or clean the kitchen at work.

It kinda makes sense.

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