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Lent 2021: how the check of willpower is linked to the times getting longer

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Whereas it might nonetheless really feel like we’re within the chilly, gloomy depths of winter, the times are slowly getting longer heralding the upcoming arrival of spring.

Meals is ready to occupy our minds for the following couple of months, as we tackle Lent whereas Easter is simply across the nook. However how is the fasting season of Lent intrinsically linked to spring – and why will we use the 40 days to check our willpower?

Right here is every part you want to know concerning the Christian interval, from all the important thing dates, to the very best issues to surrender for Lent.

What’s Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent within the Christian calendar, has been noticed by Britons for hundreds of years. Its actual date modifications yearly, as a result of it’s decided by the dates of Easter. However it’s at all times the day after Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, and it at all times falls in February or March. This yr, it takes place right this moment, Feb 17.

In 2016, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, advised that Easter ought to fall on the identical date every year. The plan, which might schedule the Christian competition on the identical Sunday every year, was welcomed by mother and father and colleges however angered some traditionalists.

At current, Easter falls on the primary Sunday following the primary full moon after the vernal equinox. This implies it might fall on any Sunday between Mar 22 and Apr 25. Archbishop Welby stated that Easter ought to most probably be fastened for the second or third Sunday of April.

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The place did the title come from?

The title Ash Wednesday comes from the observe of both marking a cross on a church-goer’s brow with ash, or sprinkling ash on their brow, which is believed to have been ritualized by Pope City II way back to 1091.

Each the Catholic and Methodist church buildings use the ashes of palm branches blessed on the earlier yr’s Palm Sunday service, whereas the Church of England say the ashes ‘could also be made’ from the earlier yr’s ashes.

Because the ash is positioned on the church-goer’s brow, historically the phrases ‘Repent, and imagine within the Gospel’ or ‘Bear in mind that you’re mud, and to mud you shall return’ are stated.

Generally, the mark is left on the brow to indicate that they carry the signal of the cross into the world. At different providers, the ashes are washed off as an indication that the worshipper has been cleansed of their sins.

Typically, the color purple is utilized in church buildings all through Lent. Related to mourning, and due to this fact the struggling of the crucifixion, it might be seen on drapes and altar frontals. The color can be symbolic of royalty and celebrates the resurrection and sovereignty.

What do individuals hand over for Lent?

As Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the date of the Christian observance modifications yearly, decided by the March equinox and the celebration of Easter. 

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This yr, the fasting season begins on Wednesday, Feb 17, concluding on Saturday, Apr 3, the Saturday previous Easter Sunday. Whereas there are at all times 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, the six Sundays should not counted as quick days, because of the Christian calendar assigning this explicit day of the week for feasts.

Some individuals quick for the entire interval of Lent, as a mirrored image of Jesus’s sacrifice within the Judean desert. Some Christians will quick solely on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the Friday earlier than Easter Sunday.

Nevertheless, many individuals, even those that don’t go to church, select to surrender a selected vice. Here is a number of the extra well-liked choices:

  • Sugar, together with chocolate
  • Espresso 
  • Meat
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Takeaways
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking and vaping
  • Procrasinating
  • Swearing
  • Shopping for garments
  • Netflix
  • Pub journeys
  • Social media
  • Gaming
  • On-line relationship
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As an alternative of giving up chocolate, fizzy drinks or chips, many others use Lent as a time period to assist others. A whole bunch of individuals take half within the Lenten Constructive Acts Problem, as one other option to present reward for God. Individuals carry out one optimistic act for every of the times between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. These ‘optimistic acts’ can embody calling up somebody who’s alone, donating to a worthy trigger, clearing up after dinner and letting somebody go forward of you in a grocery store queue.

The origins of Lent

Ash Wednesday marks the primary day of Lent, a interval of 40 days (excluding Sundays) which comes earlier than Easter within the Christian calendar. This yr, Easter falls on Sunday, Apr 4.

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Christians who observe Lent use it as a time for prayer and penance. By observing Lent, Christians are remembering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who withdrew into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days.

Historically, pancakes are eaten on the day earlier than Ash Wednesday to make use of up wealthy, indulgent meals like eggs and milk earlier than the 40-day fasting season of Lent begins. 

The English phrase Lent has no connection to the observe of fasting: it is the truth is a shortened type of the Outdated English phrase ‘lencten’, that means ‘spring season’.

Linked to the Outdated Germanic root phrase ‘laŋgo-‘,  which implies ‘lengthy’, many imagine the phrase Lent is expounded to the lengthening of days over the season. The truth is, the Anglo Saxon title for March – the month Lent often falls in – was ‘lenctentid’, which implies ‘springtide’.

Nevertheless, because the fasting season that precedes Easter at all times takes place within the spring, the phrase Lent quickly got here to be linked intrinsically to 40 days of penance.

How else is Ash Wednesday noticed?

In Ashbourne, Derbyshire, gamers often spend Ash Wednesday concluding the annual Royal Shrovetide soccer match. The 2-day occasion, which kicks off on Shrove Tuesday, pits the Up’ards in opposition to the Down’ards in an try to attain in objectives set three miles aside within the Peak District city.

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