Interesting Facts About Lent (Part 1)

Published by DonDavidson on

Today Lent is a 40-day period of repentance, fasting, self-examination, and preparation for the coming of Easter. However, the earliest evidence of Lent as a season lasting 40 days comes from the Council of Nicea, in 325 A.D., which refers to it in one of its canons.

Prior to the Council of Nicea, fasting during the Easter season was common, but such fasts usually lasted only a day or two. 40-day fasts also existed, but were not specifically tied to Easter, and were often done as penance. By the late-4th century, the 40-day season of Lent as a time of prayer and fasting was well established. It was also a time to prepare new converts for baptism.

In many of the eastern churches Lent is counted differently. They fast only on weekdays, not on Saturday and Sunday, so their Lent is a week longer. In some of the north African churches, Lent is 55 days long.

In some languages—including Czech, German, and Norwegian—Lent is referred to as the “fasting period.” In Polish and Russian it is referred to as the “great fast.”

 “Fasting” must be distinguished from “abstaining.” For Roman Catholics fasting means eating only one meal a day, although two “collations”—basically snacks—are permitted. “Abstaining” simply means not eating a certain type of food, such as meat. The Roman Catholic Church requires fasting only on two days: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Many of the eastern churches are stricter, some even requiring a vegan diet during Lent.

Interesting Facts About Lent Part 2

Interesting Facts About Lent Part 3


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