What is Lent?

Lent is the word Christians use to describe the forty days leading up to Easter.
It starts on Ash Wednesday (usually in February) and ends on Easter Saturday, the eve of the Resurrection. For Catholics, Orthodox Christians and some protestant churches it is a time of penitence and fasting.

What does Lent commemorate?

The focus of Lent is described in Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 

The first torment is hunger

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Further temptations are then offered by Satan, the ultimate super-villain:  

All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

These are robustly rejected.

 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Why do Christians make 'resolutions' in Lent?

Traditionally Christians mark Lent by making a 'resolution' or promise to improve an aspect of personal behaviour. For children this is often to give up something for the full forty days - chocolate, for example. 

An (unofficial) Irish Catholic tradition is to give up alcohol for the period. Some allow themselves an (unofficial) day off to allow the Guinness to flow on St Patrick's Day (March 17)!

These days Christians are encouraged to adopt a more positive approach to the Lent Resolution. In this spirit many will do extra work for charity.

Where does the word Easter come from?