Everyone wants to give something up for Lent to say they did, but why is Lent a thing?  Lent is the time that precedes Easter, one of the most important holidays in the Christian faith.  Lent lasts 40 says, 46 if you count Sundays.  During Lent it is time to pray, practice penance and sacrifice, and do good work in the community. The word Lent comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word lencten (Spring)  and lenctentid (Springtide or March).

 

Lent begins on different days depending on what part of the Christian faith you are apart of or you are just curious about.  For most Christians Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  This encompasses both Catholics and Protestants.  On Ash Wednesday many people go to an evening service and during the service they have ashed rubbed onto their foreheads in the shape of a cross.  The Orthodox church does not begin Lent until “Clean Monday”, the Monday after Ash Wednesday.

 

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Rio Carnival 2015 Source: ibtimes.co.uk

Traditionally, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is called “Fat Tuesday”, “Pancake Tuesday”, or “Shrove Tuesday.”  During that Tuesday people will indulge themselves in food and whatever they may be giving up during Lent because Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting.  In other cultures the time before Lent is a big festival, or a carnival celebration.  Listing some of them off include…

  • Carnival of Barranquilla (Colombia)
  • Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands)
  • Carnival of Venice (Italy)
  • Cologne Carnival (Germany)
  • New Orleans Mardi Gras (Louisiana, USA)
  • Rio Carnival (Brazil)
  • Trinidad and Tobago Carnival (Trinidad and Tobago)

So in the end why do we celebrate Lent and why 40 days?  Lent was something that the Church created.  The Church Fathers wanted people to participate and practice Lent because they said that this would bring you closer to God and strengthen your relationship with Him.  Initially Lent wasn’t always 40 days, but as the Church Father got more people on board to practice Lent it became a standard to practioce Lent for 40 days.

Not only that, but the number 40 us highly significant in the Christian faith.  The story of Noah and his ark, it had rained for 40 days and 40 nights causing a large flood that covered the earth.  People of Nineveh fasted for 40 days to repent for their sins.  Prophet Ezekiel laid on his right side 40 days because of the imminent siege and destruction of Jerusalem.  Prophet Elijah fasted and prayed on Mount Horeb for 40 days.  Moses and the Israelites traveled and wandered through the desert to the promised land for 40 years.  Jesus fasted for 40 days in the woods in preparation of His ministry and he faced the temptations of Satan while there.

 

So in preparation for Lent if you don’t know what to give up, here is a list of 50 ideas to get you started.

 

  1. Complaining
  2. Gossiping
  3. Procrastinating
  4. Pizza
  5. Eating meat
  6. Making excuses to not do things or avoid them
  7. Soda
  8. Coffee
  9. Alcohol
  10. Pointing out things that you think are wrong with yourself
  11. Deserts or candy
  12. Video games
  13. Relying on your credit card
  14. Letting clutter build up
  15. Going out to eat
  16. Ordering take out
  17. Smoking
  18. Social media
  19. Overworking yourself when you don’t need to
  20. Turning off electronics for a certain amount of time each day
  21. Weighing yourself and wishing you were different
  22. Chocolate
  23. Staying up late
  24. Sex
  25. Fast food
  26. Dairy
  27. Junk food (chips, doritos, cheetos)
  28. Swearing
  29. Netflix
  30. Make up
  31. Lying
  32. Excessive snacking
  33. Hitting the snooze button
  34. Unnecessary shopping
  35. Putting extra salt on food
  36. Cream and sugar in your coffee or tea
  37. Impatience
  38. People pleasing and putting others needs before yours
  39. Blaming others
  40. Hatred
  41. Envy
  42. Snacking after dinner
  43. Donate the things you don’t use or need
  44. Stop insulting people and instead compliment them
  45. Oversleeping
  46. Napping
  47. Dating and dating apps/sites
  48. Avoiding socializing and choosing to be alone
  49. Caffeine
  50. Fried foods