RELIGION: Each year, as we approach Easter Sunday, Christians first recognize the season of Lent. In 2023, the holy time leading up to Easter starts today Wednesday, February 22, and it slated to end on Saturday, April 8, 2023.
Christians have converged in various churches to mark Ash Wednesday in preparation for the Lent period. Ash Wednesday marks the start of a 40-day period, which is an allusion to the separation of Jesus in the desert, dedicated to fasting and prayer.
The celebration of Lent is a six-week-long event in the Christian calendar when Christians are meant to be “encouraged to find [their] own method of confronting [their] sinfulness, remembering [their] mortality, and giving thanks for the gift of salvation [they] receive through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The word “Lent” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term “lencten” (relating to the lengthening of days), which translates to “spring.”
The holiday is 40 days long, not including Sundays. (So, technically, it’s 46 days long.) It is a time of preparation and focus, reminiscent of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before he started his public ministry.
The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday. On Ash Wednesday, priests gather ashes from the previous Palm Sunday (more on that later) and rub them on congregants’ foreheads.
They do this while citing Genesis 3:19: “…For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
In addition to heading to church, many honor the beginning of Lent by choosing to give up something for the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, such as alcohol, sweets, or even swearing. Another option is to give themselves to a cause, which could include volunteering.
The official end of Lent is on Saturday, April 8, 2023, the day before Easter Sunday. There’s an entire list of events leading up to the finale that’s called Holy Week. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. This marks Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem, where he received palm branches at his feet.
During Palm Sunday services, churchgoers are given palm crosses that are supposed to be kept until the next year.
After Palm Sunday comes Holy Wednesday, which acknowledges Judas Iscariot’s plan to deceive Jesus. That’s followed by Maundy Thursday and commemorates Jesus’s last supper. Next is Good Friday, when Christians recall the crucification of their savior.
The final day of Holy Week is Easter, when believers acknowledge that Jesus rose from his tomb.