What Is Lent, and When Is It Observed This Year?

·2 min read

Signs of spring are beginning to pop up everywhere, which means Easter is right around the corner. And while we're already busy planning our Sunday brunch and organizing virtual egg hunts, there's still one major event before Easter.

Lent is the 40-day Christian celebration that leads up to Easter, and we're in the middle of the season right now. Lent is typically celebrated by most Christian denominations, including Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, and Lutherans, and represents a season of preparation for Easter—the biggest and most significant Christian holiday.

If you've never celebrated Lent before, you may know that Christians typically give something up during the season—but there's a deeper significance than just not eating chocolate for a few weeks. So if you're new to Lent or you're just curious about the tradition, read up on the significance of it before participating in this year's Easter festivities.

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When is Lent?

Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday (the Sunday after the first full moon in the March equinox) and ends on Maundy Thursday, which is celebrated four days before Easter Sunday. This year, Lent begins on Wednesday, February 17 and ends on Saturday, April 3, 2021.

Lent is commonly referred to as lasting 40 days, but because that doesn't include Sundays, Lent typically lasts about 46 days.

What Is Lent, and Why Do We Give Something Up for Lent?

Lent is a season of fasting, prayer, and preparation for the Easter holiday. It lasts 40 days to represent the 40 days and 40 nights that Jesus spent fasting and praying in the desert (Matthew 4:2).

This is also the significance behind why Christians give something up during Lent. Sacrificing a luxury (whether that be dessert, technology, social media, or something else you use daily) represents the sacrifices of Jesus, and reminds Christians of the significance of the season.

In addition to what each individual person gives up, Catholics specifically refrain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Because Jesus sacrificed himself on Good Friday, Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays in observation.