24 February 2012

A little bit of lent

So after the excitement of Shrove Tuesday, Pancake day, Mardi Gras or, my personal favourite, Fat Tuesday, Wednesday marked the beginning of lent with many Christians and indeed non-Christians across the world heaving a collective sigh as they give up something the enjoy for the next 6 and a half weeks.

But what really is lent and why do we put ourselves through such a test of willpower?
In it's simplest form Lent marks the forty days in the lead up to Easter and represents the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the Devil before starting to minister. Today, alongside it's religious foundations, lent has become a symbol for self control and preparation in the run up to Easter and spring for both Christians and non-Christians alike.

But the big debate is, when does lent end and do Sundays actually count?
Well, the honest answer is that it depends entirely on you! Some people believe that lent ends at Sundown on Maundy Thursday, whilst others believe it continues right through until Easter Saturday. Likewise, a lot of people argue that Sundays's aren't included as they are a traditional day of celebration and feasting. So, depending on what you decide to do lent can range anywhere from 38-46 days!

This year I've decided to go vegetarian for lent and give up chocolate (a bit of a big deal as a self-confessed chocoholic) and any kind of takeaway (an occasional but extravagant and necessary treat). As always I'm going to keep it up until Easter Saturday and probably continue on Sundays as well, meaning I'm in for the full 46 days! That said, I may allow myself one Sunday off, purely in the interest of eating up anything I've given up that won't keep until after lent has finished you have to understand!

So what are you giving up this year, that is if you are? And no cheating, giving up something you don't do anyway doesn't count!!

Finally, I'm going to leave you with something someone I follow on twitter posted earlier in the week.
"If you give up something for lent just so you can loose weight, then baby Jesus does crying."
Do I agree? On the one hand, yes it is a religious tradition and deserves to be respected as such, but on the other if it helps people to better themselves, prepare for spring and put a little perspective back in their life then does it really matter? Either way you are continuing (or at least attempting to continue) the tradition and giving a nod to the true meaning of Easter, no matter how small that nod may be.

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