Lent is a religious observation in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on the Ash Wednesday, taking a period of six weeks. It ends just before Easter Sunday, a day to commemorate Jesus’ Resurrection. Ash Wednesday varies from year to year because of the variation in the Easter dates. It usually falls between February 3 and March 10. The period of Lent is observed in remembrance of the holy week which led to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and other events like the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem which is celebrated as Palm Sunday. The climax of the Lent Period is usually the commemoration of Jesus’ crucifixion, observed as Good Friday. The Lent period traditionally takes forty days, to commemorate the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. This event is mostly observed by the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, and Orthodox churches.
When Does Lent End?
There have been many theories concerning when the period of Lent should end. The period is not always fixed because the date of the start of lent usually varies. The end of Lent also varies from denomination to denomination, depending on their definition, beliefs, and practices during Lent. The Anglican's Lent usually takes 44 to 46 days. In the Romans Catholic, the Lent is 40 days and ends on the evening of the Lord’s Supper, just before the Holy Thursday begins.
Contrary to many people’s thinking, the Holy Week is also part of the Lent period. The Holy Week includes the Maundy Thursday, a celebration of the Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, Good Friday which is a commemoration of the day Jesus died and was crucified, and the final day of Lent, the Holy Saturday which honors the day Jesus’ dead body was laid in the tomb. The following day is Easter Sunday, a celebration of His resurrection.
Generally, the Lent calendar is Lunar Calendar, a reason as to why the dates keep varying from year to year. Easter Sunday is usually the first Sunday after the first full moon. After the Easter Sunday is established, other Lent dates and Ash Wednesday are also established.
Practices and Customs During Lent
The followers of denominations that observe Lent, as mentioned above, mark the onset of Lent by engaging in prayer, having penance, mortifying of the flesh, repentance of their sins, alms giving, and self-denial. The believers deny themselves some of the luxuries during the Lent period. In the Roman Catholic Church, alter decorations such as flowers are not used. The alter statues and religious symbols are covered in violet pieces of cloth to signify the somberness of the period. The Roman Catholic faithful also abstain from consumption of meat. The Catholics refrain from singing ‘alelluia’ and using musical instruments during their masses, to signify the somber mood of the period. In honor of the stages after Jesus’ arrest to his death, Roman Catholics take part in the way of the cross. The holy period ends with an Easter Vigil at dusk on the Holy Saturday or the morning of Easter Sunday.