Lent 2020 will see millions of people around the world give up something they enjoy for 40 days this year. The religious festival is eagerly followed by both religious and non-religious people alike, who may abide by its rules for a variety of reasons.
When does Lent start?
Lent is known as a period of reflection and preparation which comes before Easter.
During the 40-day period, people replicate the acts of Jesus Christ by giving up something important to them, usually a food item to mirror Jesus’ fast.
Lent starts this week on Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 26.
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Officially, there are 46 days between February 26 and Easter – which falls on April 12 – this year.
However, Sundays do not count as fasting days, so people can partake in their guilty pleasures on the day if necessary.
Lent ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, but the date can vary depending on the practitioner.
Before then, however, people have one day set aside for indulgence, Shrove Tuesday.
Shrove Tuesday falls on February 25 this year and is marked by feasting and celebration.
In religious circles, Shrove Tuesday is a day of both penitence and indulgence, and gets its name from the act of “shriving”.
Shriving sees people confess their sins to achieve absolution, which releases their guilt and pain.
Most people will know Shrove Tuesday by its colloquial name, however – Pancake Day.
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Pancake Day took over as the main Shrove Tuesday celebration, as traditionally, people would give up milk, fat and eggs for lent.
People would abstain from eating these products but refuse to waste them, and at the end of lent would have large supplies in need of burning off.
Using them up at the end of abstinence gave way to the festival of Mardi Gas, which means fat Tuesday.
Others used up the ingredients before Lent, and pancakes became the favourite way to use them all together, with their topics also incorporating commonly given up products.
What do most people give up for lent?
Long ago, Lent was an occasion used to give up a limited range of products and ingredients.
Christians would avoid milky products, fish, fat and eggs, but now the range has extended to include anything people consider an indulgence.
Popular options are chocolate, sugar, alcohol, takeaways and smoking.
Many people use the period to try going vegan and decide to give up meat products.
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