Via Dictionary.com lent is the period of forty weekdays lasting from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, observed as a time of penance and fasting commemorating Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness.
I wanted to offer you guys some little known facts about it this year. In researching this I learned a lil sum’n sum’n myself.
Top 5 things you may not have known:
1. Fasting not really required
Despite the tradition of fasting depicted in the Bible, and Jesus’ referenced to it, the New Testament teaching does not require fasting and says that neither Jesus nor his disciples made fasting obligatory. However, during the lent season, many of the faithful Christians commit to fasting or in many instances, give up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence.
2. Lent Actually Means ‘Spring’
During the middle ages, when sermon began to be given in the vernacular instead of Latin, the English word lent was said to be adopted. The word initially meant only ‘Spring’, just like in the German language ‘Lenz’ and Dutch ‘Lente’. It derives from the Germanic root for long, simply referring to the fact that the days are beginning to become longer in spring.
3. ’40’ has many symbolic representation
As the fasting period of 40 days is observed, the number tends to be a symbolic representation of many religious facts or Biblical references. It is traditionally described as fasting for 40 days is in commemoration of the forty days, which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry where he is said to have endured temptation by the Devil.
Other biblical references where the number 40 is important are: the 40 days Moses spent on Mount Sinai with God, the 40 days and nights Elijah spent walking to Mount Horeb, the 40 days and nights God is said to have sent rain causing the great flood of Noah, the 40 years the Hebrew people wandered in the desert in their journey towards the ‘Promised land’ and the 40 days Jonah gave in his prophecy of judgment to the city of Ninevah.
4. Ash is the Reminder of Human Mortality
The ashes that are used by priests on the Ash Wednesday usually come from the remains of burned palms that were blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The ash symbolizes death, mortality and sorrow for sin. The marking of ashes on the forehead in the form of a cross also represents that sins are forgiven through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
5. ‘Ash Monday’
Not all traditions celebrate the concept of Ash Wednesday on a Wednesday. In countries such as Cyprus and Greece, the concept of the first day of Lent is observed on a Monday. Many eastern churches do not generally observe Ash Wednesday but they observe Ash Monday (often called ‘Clean Monday’ or Green Monday).