The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday and for 2018, the date is Wednesday, February 14, 2018. It also happens to be Valentine’s Day this year. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, which is the when Christians prepare for the celebration of Easter, which is on Sunday, April 1, 2018. Lent is believed to be a time for sacrificing as it’s the season of penance and prayer, which is why many fast, give up meat or rid themselves of delicious treats. It’s almost looked at as a sort of “spring-cleaning” for your life. Project Britain stated that the Christian church no longer enforces a strict fasting. Project Britain states that, “Lent is a time when some Christians try to overcome their own faults because they believe that it was man’s sin which led Jesus to be crucified. Some Christians try to follow the example of Jesus in the desert by giving up luxuries and practicing self-discipline. And they try to put aside more time to prayer and religious acts so that they can really let God into their lives.”
So, how are the days of Lent calculated? AboutReligion.com reports that Lent is 40 days long, but “there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and Easter.” Sundays could not be included in the count because they were days to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection. In turn, Christians were not allowed to fast on those days.
Lent ends on Holy Saturday, which is the day before Easter, so this year, it ends on Thursday, March 29, 2018. Because Easter occurs on a different date each year, so does Lent. Many people commit to fasting or giving up certain kinds of luxuries as a form of penance for Lent. If you’re trying to decide what to give up this year, here’s some modern day, as well as traditional, ideas:
– Social Media
– Fast Food
– Watching TV
– Talking Politics
The reason that many give up meat on Fridays for Lent is due to the Biblical canon 1251, which reads, “Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” according to Newsweek.
Ash Wednesday actually follows Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, which is the end of Carnival. Both the imposition of the ashes and Lent are included in pre-Christian traditions and religions. So, today, many may see people with crosses marked on their foreheads in black or dark gray ash.
According to The Mirror, the date that Lent begins each year varies, but always starts in either late February or early March. This is because the Easter holiday date is determined by the lunar calendar, which is solely based on the phases of the moon. When it comes to Western Christianity, Easter will fall between March 22 and April 25, always.