Lent

Praying

When is Lent?
The season of Lent begins during late February or early March and is the period of forty days before Easter, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Week. Sundays are not counted in the forty days. Lent is a serious time but Sundays are always a day of celebration in the Christian church and so they are not included in the forty days of Lent.

Purple in LentWhat does 'Lent' mean?
Lent is an old English word meaning 'lengthen' and happens in Spring when the days begin to get longer.

Why do we celebrate Lent?
Lent is a serious and thoughtful season when we prepare for the events leading to Christ's crucifixion. As part of this we think about the things we have done wrong and what we should do better in the future. 

In the earlier times, Lent was when new Christians who were going to be baptised on Easter Eve were taught about the Christian faith and life. Those who had already been baptised renewed the promises they had already made. Lent is a time when Christians remember how Jesus spent forty days and nights alone in the wilderness being tempted by the Devil. Jesus used this time to prepare for his work by fasting and praying. During Lent many Christians fast (they avoid eating certain foods, particularly things they enjoy, like chocolate) and spend extra time praying.

PancakeShrove Tuesday
This is also known as Pancake Day, is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. This day is set aside for repentance and absolution (being sorry for our sins and being forgiven for them) in preparation for Lent. As Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up, so Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge, and to use up the foods that traditionally were not allowed in Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs, which used to be forbidden during Lent. 

Ash Wednesday is the day after Shrove Tuesday and the first day of Lent.
Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent.
Passion Sunday is the fifth Sunday in Lent when Passiontide begins and we begin to concentrate our thoughts on the Passion (or suffering) of Jesus. The story of Jesus' crucifixion is also known as the Passion.

Jesus with his crossThe Story of Holy Week, the last week of Lent
This is the most solemn week of the Christian year when we think about the last week of the mortal life of Jesus with his suffering and death. 
Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) is the start of this week. It celebrates the day when Jesus entered into Jerusalem for his last week of teaching in the Temple.
Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, is the day before Good Friday and celebrates the Last Supper of Christ and his disciples.
Good Friday is the day on which Jesus was crucified on a cross, two days before Easter Day.
Holy Saturday is the day after Good Friday and when paschal candles are lit to overcome the darkness of death.

The church colour for Lent is purple which is associated with mourning and so anticipates the pain and suffering of the crucifixion during Lent (shown above). The frontal on the altar, the altar cloths, the pulpit fall and the Bible book mark are changed to match the colour of the priest's robes.