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What is Lent and the Lenten season and how do Christians observe the time before Easter Sunday?

Lent is a season of spiritual reflection and sacrifice in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, one of the most important holidays on the Christian calendar.

Lent is one of the most important traditions observed by tens of millions of Christians every year across the globe in preparation for Easter Sunday

Officially, the season of reflection begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on Feb. 22. 

The purpose of Lent is to strengthen the faith of Christians leading up to the celebration of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the savior and son of God in the Christian religion. 

The event has been a common annual observance in Christianity for centuries since at least 325 A.D. after the Council of Nicaea.


Certain denominations mark Lent in different ways. The Eastern Orthodox view it as a means to cleanse the soul and body from sin and purify the heart as well as liberate the mind toward Christ. 

Lent is a season of reflection and sacrifices that typically involves fasting or giving up certain foods or activities for 40 days to commemorate the 40 days that Jesus Christ fasted in the desert, according to the Bible. 

In the Bible, Satan tempted Jesus with promises of power during his 40 days in the desert, but the Messiah denied the offers. The goal of many Christians is to use fasting to practice self-control and prayer so that they may understand the temptation that Jesus overcame. 

Ash Wednesday occurs on the first day of Lent, about six-and-a-half weeks before the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. 

The day is a time for Christians to reflect on their own mortality and strengthen their relationship with God by observing the sacrifices of Christ. 

Catholic worshipers typically have a priest mark their foreheads with ash in the form of a cross. This year, Ash Wednesday is Feb. 22.


Lent is observed differently by multiple religious denominations. 

Typically, on Ash Wednesday, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and other churches host services at which believers in Christ are marked with a cross of ashes to symbolize death and sorrow for sin.

Lent ends for Catholics on Maundy Thursday, on Holy Saturday for Lutherans and Methodists and on Lazarus Saturday for the Eastern Orthodox denomination. 

For many Christians, Lent is meant to be a time of spiritual devotion that accumulates in a celebration of Christ's resurrection. 

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