Questions About Lent
What is Lent?
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is also a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to start a new good habit.
Why is Lent 40 days?
The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1–11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1–13).
What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Many Christians attend an Ash Wednesday service at their church where they receive ashes on their foreheads as a symbol of repentance. Some may fast on Ash Wednesday.
What is Holy Week?
For some Christians, the week preceding Easter is known as Holy Week. It begins on Palm Sunday and is traditionally a week of somber reflection on the events preceding Jesus’ death: His triumphant entry into Jerusalem; His betrayal by Judas; His Last Supper with His twelve apostles; His arrest, crucifixion and death; and His burial in a tomb.
- Palm Sunday: On Palm Sunday, Christians celebrate Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem, which occurred several days before His death.
- Maundy Thursday: On Maundy Thursday (also called Holy Thursday), Christians commemorate the Last Supper—a Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples the night before His death (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-39 and John 13:1-17:26). During the meal, Jesus broke bread and offered His followers wine, saying “This is my body, given up for you.”
- Good Friday: Good Friday (also called Holy Friday) is the most somber day on the Christian calendar. Christians observe it as the day Jesus willingly suffered and died for the sins of the world. It came to be known as Good Friday because in Old English, the word “good” almost meant holy.
- Holy Saturday: On Holy Saturday, we remember the day Jesus’ body lay in the tomb.
- Easter: As a celebration of the day Jesus rose from the dead, Easter symbolizes forgiveness, rebirth, and God’s saving power. Because of the resurrection, we have victory over sin and death!