Lent is the annual period of Christian observance that precedes Easter. The dates of Lent are defined by the date of Easter, which is a moveable feast, meaning that it falls on a different date each year. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and its observance lasts for 40 days, mirroring the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness before starting his ministry. It can also be seen to mirror the 40 hours that Jesus spent in the tomb prior to his resurrection.
Lent is a penitential period, involving the dual disciplines of abstinence and fasting. During Lent many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain foods, habits or luxuries – for example meat, cakes and sweets, alcohol, smoking – for its duration (the money saved is often then donated to charity). This is done both as a form of penitence and as a spiritual tool to tame the body and ‘sharpen the spirit’ for prayer, reflection and contemplation in preparation for the celebration of Easter.
Lent lasts for 40 days and the first day is always Ash Wednesday (the day after Shrove Tuesday). The Lenten Fast (which is the period that most people consider to be ‘Lent’) starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday (not to be confused with Easter Saturday, the Saturday after Easter). This is a period of 46 days. However, the six Sundays within the period are not fast days (Sundays are always feast days in the Christian calendar) and therefore not counted in the 40 days of Lent.
Purple is the colour most associated with Lent – during this period purple church vestments (altar cloths and the priests’ liturgical garments) are used. The purple is symbolic in two ways: it is the traditional colour of mourning (recalling Jesus’ death) and also symbolic of royalty (celebrating Christ’s coming as King).
Jesus fasts in the desert animation
Lent – facts
Stations of the Cross
Lenten events in school:
- Ash Wednesday mass at 10 in the church
- Daily whole school stations of the cross at 1 (led by Y6 pupils)
- CAFOD assembly to introduce almsgiving theme this year
- Weekly opportunities for additional prayer (Monday break times)
- Celebration of the events of Holy Week (w/c 1st April)
- Service of reconciliation (2nd April)