Today is Ash Wednesday. For some Christians, it’s just another day. But for millions of people around the world, today marks the beginning of Lent. When most people think of Lent they think of a time to “give up something” in preparation for Easter. But why? Should Christians still celebrate Lent? Is giving something up the only way to do it? Let’s dive in to answering some of those questions.
Lent: What is it and how did it begin?
Since I was little, I always knew that “Lent is the season leading up to Easter Sunday.” I also heard somewhere along the line that you should “give something up” for Lent.
Not exactly history. (I had to do a little research prepping for this post.)
Some have thought Lent was established by the apostles in the years following Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension. Officially, nothing was mentioned about Lent until Irenaeus of Lyons (in Western Europe) and Tertullian (in Northern Africa) talked about it in the latter part of the 2nd Century. And here’s the kicker: Lent was only 40 hours…not 40 days!
Dionysius (from Alexandria) stretched that out to six days in the 3rd Century. It wasn’t until the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) that the length was officially locked in at 40 days.
Now, you might be saying, Hold on! Lent starts today. It’s supposed to be 40 days. And Easter is 46 days away. Time for some math lessons! [Read more…] about What is Lent? (And Should Christians Celebrate It?)