Lent period: 6 interesting facts only Catholics may know

For most Catholic around the world this is the period of self control and abstinence from certain indulgences. It is known as the Lenten season. Popularly called Lent in Nigeria, it is a time of reflection among the practicing Catholics. What though are some things to know about it?

1. Timing

When is Lent? It is usually the period of 40 days before Easter in the Christian calendar. Sundays are not counted, so it falls on a different date each year because it depends on the date of Easter Sunday.

2. Duration

Why is Lent 40 days long? The number 40 has great significance in the Bible. For example, in Genesis, it took 40 days and nights of rain to cause a flood which destroyed the earth. Also, the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land; Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai; Jesus spent 40 days of fasting in preparation for his ministry.

3. What does the word mean?

Lent is derived from an Old English word which means “lengthen.” The last week of Lent is called Holy Week.

4. Why is violet commonly used? Violet is the symbolic color for Lent. Therefore it is common to see altars, statues and other religious objects covered with violet fabric. The color violet is associated with mourning, and according to Catholic creed it anticipates Christ’s pain and suffering on the cross; and royalty, which celebrates Christ’s resurrection.

5. Ash Wednesday

What does Ash Wednesday have to do with Lent? Lent usually starts with Ash Wednesday, which is derived from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance to God. Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, prayer, and repentance. Other days of abstinence from meat include all Fridays during Lent.

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6. Abstinence During Lent, Catholics are encouraged to surrender a particular vice, such as smoking or favorite food items, as a reflection of Jesus’ deprivation in the wilderness and test of self-discipline. It is common for many to abstain from meat. Read more:

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