Why Do Some People Celebrate Lent?
By Tessa Irsik
First of all, you're probably wondering what the word "Lent" is. It is derived from an old English word meaning "spring" and is a period of penance and abstinence observed by many Christians. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday. Good Friday is right after Holy Thursday when Christians commemorate Jesus Christ's crucifixion.
In 2020, the 40 days of Lent began on Wednesday, February 26, and ended on Thursday, April 9. In 2021, Lent began on Wednesday, February 17, and ends on Saturday, April 3.
The purpose of observing Lent is for Christians to prepare for the coming Easter by getting closer to God and repenting of sins. Lent is an homage to Jesus's forty days spent fasting in the desert in preparation for his ministry on Earth. The reason why Christians fast is because Jesus also fasted in the desert. Often, many people give up something they enjoy, such as fast food, chocolate, or social media.
Lent was officially created during the Council of Nicaea C.E. Originally, Lent's rules were stringent. The ones that followed Lent could only eat one meal a day and only in the evening. All meat, fish, and animal products were not allowed. By the 1400s, Christians were allowed to eat by noon. Eventually, fish was reintroduced by 1966, and the Roman Catholic Church restricted fast days to only Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Pope Gregory created Ash Wednesday, marking foreheads with ashes on this special day. Wearing ashes is a biblical symbol of repentance and a reminder of one's mortality. Not all
Christian denominations observe Lent. It's most often celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations, such as among Anglicans/Episcopalians and Methodists.
In conclusion, all Christians celebrate Lent. It is observed by Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Easter Orthodox, Lutherans, and Methodists.