Lent definition for kids:

Lent is an important period of reflection, growth, and new beginnings in the Christian calendar. Christians use this special time to show their devotion to their faith, draw closer to God, and prepare for Easter.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the day after Shrove Tuesday, and six weeks before Easter. It ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Lent is 40 days long, as Sundays are not counted.

Why are Lent 40 days?

The 40 days of lent replicate the time that Jesus Christ spent in the desert and wilderness in solitude, prayer, and fasting. This period is known as the Temptation of Christ, where Satan tempted Jesus for 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus successfully refused each temptation and returned to Galilee to begin his ministry.

Jesus showed incredible restraint during the 40 days, and so many Christians use Lent as a period to strengthen their self-discipline and take part in giving up certain foods or habits.

Why are Sundays not included in Lent?

In the Christian Faith, Sundays are the Sabbath day – a day of rest, feasting, and joy where Christians celebrate and worship Jesus Christ.

When is Lent?

The date of Lent depends on the date of Easter that year, as Lent always occurs exactly 46 days before Easter (40 days of Lent, plus the six Sundays not counted in the Lent tradition).

Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, the first full moon after the spring equinox, which is recognized to be March 21.

This means that Easter can occur anytime between March 22nd and April 25th.

How is Lent Observed?

  • Many people decide to sacrifice something for Lent. This might be food or an activity. For example, someone might give up chocolate or dine out for Lent.
  • The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday, and many Christians mark this day and the start of Lent by going to Mass, where a priest will place ashes on their forehead in the shape of a cross. This is a way to express the Christian faith; the ashes symbolize the dust God made people from, representing their mortality.
  • Fasting is another common practice during Lent. In earlier centuries, fasting during Lent was extremely strict; only one meal in the evening was to be taken during these 40 days and 40 nights. However, many in the Catholic Church now only observe Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as the obligatory days of fasting. It is also common practice to follow meatless Fridays across all of Lent.
  • As well as being a time for self-sacrifice, Christians see Lent as a time to give to those less fortunate, and so many save up their money for the 40 days and then donate to charity or spend it on items, such as food, for those in need.
  • Lent is a time for deep spiritual observance and reflection, so Christians attend church as often as possible. As a result, many follow a mid-week service alongside Sunday service throughout Lent.
  • As well as attending services, Christians use this time to engage in deep prayer.
  • Lent’s color is purple, which symbolically represents royalty and mourning. It is used then in both churches and the homes of Christians to solemnly remember the pain and sacrifice of Jesus’s death and joy in his royalty and resurrection.

Facts about Lent:

  1. The word ‘Lent’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘lenten,’ which means springtime.
  2. In the past, observers of Lent would give up all rich foods for the 40 days and would use up these foods the day before Lent on Strove Tuesday. The rich foods were foods such as milk, egg, and fats. This is one of the reasons why we have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday!
  3. The last day of Lent is called the Holy Week.

The Holy Week:

The Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday and includes Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Maudy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The next day, Easter Sunday marks the start of Eastertide.

Palm Sunday marks Jesus Christ’s triumphal arrival in Jerusalem. It is said that Jesus was welcomed by people waving palm leaves and placing them in his path.

Maundy Thursday is when Jesus had The Last Supper with his 12 disciples. During The Last Supper, Jesus blessed the wine and broke bread, declaring that the bread was his body given to them and the wine his blood. This is where the Christian tradition of communion comes from.

On Good Friday, Jesus died on the cross. Christians observe this day by remembering Jesus’s death and sacrifices through church services, hymns, and prayers. Many of the services at church are held between the times of noon and 3 pm to mark the time that Jesus spent on the cross.

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