Interesting Facts About Lent (Part 2)

Published by DonDavidson on

The Council of Nicea referred to Lent as tessakaronka, Greek for “forty.” The Latin is Quadragesima, which means “forty” or “fortieth.” In the Latin countries of Italy, Spain, and France, Lent is referred to by a name that derives from this Latin word: Quaresima (Italian), Cuaresma (Spanish), and Carême (French).

The number 40 has much Biblical significance: the embalming of Jacob’s body took 40 days (Genesis 50:2-3). Moses fasted for 40 days on two occasions—when he 1st received the tablets of stone (Exodus 34:28 and Deuteronomy 9:9), and after smashing the tablets because of the molten calf (Deuteronomy 9:16-18). Elijah traveled for 40 days without food while fleeing the wrath of Jezebel (1 Kings 19:7-8). Nineveh was given 40 days to repent (Jonah 3:4-5). Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-2 and Luke 4:1-2).

The source of our word, “Lent,” is somewhat in doubt. Some believe it derives from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning, “Spring,” since most of Lent occurs in the Spring. Others believe it derives from a German word meaning “lengthen,” since Lent occurs during a time of year when days are lengthening.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday in the West, thanks to Pope Gregory, who was Pope in the late 6th century. Ash Wednesday is 46 days prior to Easter, but the six Sundays do not count toward the 40 days. Pope Gregory is also credited with beginning the tradition of placing ashes on the foreheads of Christians on Ash Wednesday, to remind them of the message of Genesis 3:19: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Interesting Facts About Lent Part 1

Interesting Facts About Lent Part 3


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