Lent is a season of self-denial, atonement, and changing of mind. Lent is a reaffirmation of our commitment to follow in the footsteps of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our restoration of relationship with the Almighty and His only Begotten Son is the focus of Lent. Lent is a period of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving leading to the Easter feast. Lent is a penitential season for the believers to prepare for the observance of the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection.
Lent lasts for 40 days (excluding Sundays). Lent begins on Ash Wednesday at midnight and ends on Holy Thursday at dusk (Maundy Thursday).
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Amazing Lent Facts
Let us now discover 7 astounding and fascinating Lent facts that will leave you spellbound.
Do you know there’s more to the word “Lent” than meets the eye?
The word “Lent” is said to have originated from the Anglo-Saxon words “lencten,” or “lente,” (from Proto-West Germanic “langatīn”), which means “spring” or “springtime.” It alludes to the lengthening of days as the spring season approaches, heralding the arrival of new life and renewal. Some say the word “lent” comes from an Old English word that means “lengthen”. Furthermore, the word was not accepted by the Church until the 11th century. Lent is also known as the “Great Fast,” “the Forty,” or “Fasting Time” in other traditions.
Do you know why is Lent 40 days long? What importance does the number 40 have in the Bible?
The 40-day period of Lent is known in Latin as Quadragesima, which means “forty days.” In the Jewish and Christian religions, the number 40 is frequently used to indicate a term of testing, trial, or probation. In the Scriptures, forty days is a traditional number of discipline, devotion, and preparation. The Lenten season commemorates Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and praying in the wilderness, when the Holy Spirit led him into the desert, before beginning his public ministry (Matthew 4:2).
In the Bible, the number 40 has a special significance. The Great Flood, which destroyed the earth, was caused by 40 days and nights of rain, according to the Book of Genesis. The Hebrews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before reaching the promised land. Before receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, Moses fasted for 40 days.
While Lent is commonly thought to span 40 days and 40 nights, it really lasts 46 days in total. Do you know why?
Lent is intended to last forty days according to tradition. If you look at the calendar closely, you’ll discover that the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter is actually forty-six days. How is that possible that the Lent period is 40 days? The answer is that the fasting days of Lent do not include Sundays. Sundays are permanent feast days in the church in celebration of the Resurrection, hence no fasting is permitted!
Therefore, churches do not observe fasting on a Sunday since it is the Lord’s Day, which is seen as a day of spiritual celebration. As a result, the 40-day time frame is not literal.
Do you know why Holy Week’s Wednesday is also known as “Spy Wednesday”?
It was the Wednesday when Judas Iscariot acted as an informant for the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the Jewish supreme council and tribunal during postexilic periods (the period of Jewish history between the end of the Babylonian exile in 538 B.C. and the beginning of the first century A.D.), headed by a High Priest and possessing religious, civil, and criminal jurisdiction. On this day, Judas accepted 30 pieces of silver in exchange for information that led to Jesus Christ’s arrest and later crucifixion.
Do you know the color Purple has royal roots?
Tyrian Purple, the regal hue, is the liturgical color during Lent, symbolizing Jesus’ suffering and foreshadowing the splendor of the Resurrection. Purple is the color of grief because soldiers mocked the Lord by putting on Him a cheap robe made of “false” purple dye implying that he was a phony king, unaware that they were about to crucify the King of Kings. They also put a crown of twisted thorns on Him. “Hail, ruler of the Jews!” they cried out as they ridiculed our Savior. (Matthew 15:17-18).
Because He is the King of Kings, Jesus converted our sadness into gladness when He came back to life. Essentially, the color represents our fallen nature and the sins we have committed. This hue also represents mourning, which foreshadows Jesus Christ’s agony and sorrow when he died on the cross. It’s also a royal hue that honors Jesus’ coming back to life (the resurrection) from the dead. Many churches drape a purple fabric over the altar during Lent to signify that Christians see Jesus as king.
Extra Info: Purple became connected with kings and aristocrats because it was very difficult to manufacture in ancient times. The royalty were usually the only ones who could afford the expensive dying process, and so the color came to be known as royal purple.
Remember, though purple is the color of royalty, but it is also the color of repentance for sins, and it represents the state of our souls without Christ’s light. The hue also represents our grief over Jesus’ death.
Do you know why Ash Wednesday and Easter dates change every year?
For thousands of years, the date for Easter has been determined. It all has to do with the Paschal full moon, also known as the Passover full moon. The first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox is celebrated as Easter. It might happen anytime between March 22 and April 25. Easter Sunday is 46 days after the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday. Because Easter is a movable feast based on the date of Passover, which is established according to the movements of the moon, Ash Wednesday is not held on the same Wednesday every year.
The Lunar calendar determines the dates of Lent, Ash Wednesday, and Easter. You can use mathematical formulas to figure out when Easter will fall in any given year. We know the start of Lent because we know the date of every Easter from now until the end of time. You may figure out when Ash Wednesday is by counting 46 days (including Sundays) or 40 days (excluding Sundays) from Easter.
Do you know how pretzels became a Lent tradition?
Pretzels date back to the Middle Ages in Europe. During Lent, Christians have traditionally abstained from eating meat and other animal products. This meant there would be no fat, butter, eggs, or other similar ingredients used. One monk decided to prepare a delectable snack out of rolled bread dough (unleavened bread with flour and water) for Lent. He twisted the dough into the shape of little arms crossed over the chest in a prayer stance (People prayed with their arms crossed rather than their hands clasped in the Middle Ages.) and distributed them after prayer.
The monk altered the traditional form, the roman ring bread, to seem like praying arms. He called them “pretiola,” which is a Latin term that means “little reward,” and he handed them to children who were learning to pray. These brezel, or “small arms” in German, are the forerunners of today’s pretzels.
Our articles on Lent will help you understand the need for God’s presence in your lives and use this season as a time of repenting, sobriety, refocusing, and renewing. Practice prayer, observe fasting, give up something, and assist those in need.
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