Lent

Lent (Latin: Quadragesima, 'Fortieth') is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar commemorating the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan.[1][2] This season is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Oriental Orthodox, Reformed (including Presbyterian and Congregationalist), United Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches.[3][4][5] Some Anabaptist, Baptist and nondenominational Christian churches also observe Lent.[6][7]

The liturgical colour of the season of Lent is purple. Altar crosses and religious statuary which show Christ in his glory are traditionally veiled during this period in the Christian year.

Which days are enumerated as being part of Lent differs between denominations (see below), although in all of them Lent is described as lasting for a total duration of 40 days. In Western Churches, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later; depending on the Christian denomination and local custom, Lent concludes either on the evening of Maundy Thursday,[8] or at sundown on Holy Saturday, when the Easter Vigil is celebrated.[9] Sundays may or may not be excluded, depending on the denomination. In Eastern Churches (whether Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Lutheran, or Eastern Catholic), Lent is observed continuously without interruption for 40 days starting on Clean Monday and ending at noon of Holy Saturday.[10][11]

Lent is a season of grief that necessarily ends with a great celebration of Easter. Thus, it is known in Eastern Orthodox circles as the season of "bright sadness" (Greek: χαρμολύπη, romanized: charmolypê).[12] The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, simple living, and self-denial.[13] In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in imitation of Jesus Christ's sacrifice during his journey into the desert for 40 days;[14][15][16] this is known as one's Lenten sacrifice.[17]

Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God.[18][19] Often observed are the Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ's carrying the Cross and crucifixion. Many churches remove flowers from their altars and veil crucifixes, religious statues that show the triumphant Christ, and other elaborate religious symbols in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event.

In most denominations, the last week of Lent coincides with Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday. Following the New Testament narrative, Jesus' crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, and at the beginning of the next week the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday, the start of the Easter season, which recalls the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In many Christian denominations, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday form the Easter Triduum.[20]