Lent, is the 40 day period of fasting and prayer before Easter. The 40 days represents the time Jesus spent in the desert overcoming temptation by Satan. The period of Lent is preparation for the annual commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, celebrated during Holy Week.
Date of Lent 2016 Western Christianity
Start of Lent 2016 (Ash Wednesday) – Wednesday 10 February 2016
End of Lent 2016 (Maundy Thursday) – Thursday 24 March 2016
Date of Great Lent 2016 Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Start of Lent 2016 (Clean Monday) – Monday 14 March 2016
End of Lent 2016 (Friday before Palm Sunday) – Friday 22 April 2016
Date of Lent 2017 Western Christianity
Start of Lent 2017 (Ash Wednesday) – Wednesday 1 March 2017
End of Lent 2017 (Maundy Thursday) – Thursday 13 April 2017
Date of Great Lent 2017 Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Start of Lent 2017 (Clean Monday) – Monday 27 February 2017
End of Lent 2017 (Friday before Palm Sunday) – Friday 7 April 2017
When does Lent start and end?
In Western Christianity, the liturgical season of Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and lasts 40 days (not including Sundays) until Maundy Thursday (the same day that commemorates the last supper).
In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Great Lent starts on Clean Monday and ends on the Friday before Palm Sunday.
Why is Lent called Lent?
Lent was originally known by the Latin term “quadragesima”, which translated means the fortieth. This relates to the fortieth day before Easter and the forty days of fasting to come.
It was during the Middle Ages, when sermons were no longer given in Latin that the English term “Lent” was adopted.
Lent is derived from the Germanic name for Spring “Lencten” and the Anglo-Saxon name for March “Lenct”. “Lencten” comes from the Germanic root for “long” as Spring is the time of year when the days become longer.
Lent traditionally falls within the period of Spring each year.
Lent Customs and Traditions
The forty days in Lent are traditionally marked by fasting, prayer and acts of penance. The three traditional practices observed during lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour).
In more recent times during Lent, people give up something they enjoy, do something that will bring them closer to God, and donate time or money to charities.