Attention world: Lent is coming sooner than you think. Yes, really. When is Lent 2018? It actually starts next week and falls on a little holiday we like to enjoy with boxes of chocolates and champagne (or is that just me?). Here's everything you need to know in preparation for Lent 2018.
What is Lent?
In terms of the calendar, when is Lent 2018? Lent covers the 40-day period leading up to Easter and biblically symbolizes the 40 days and nights Jesus was tested in the wilderness after he was baptized (Matthew 4:2). It also, according to Catholic Online, symbolizes the 40 years Israelites wandered in the desert.
Lent is a time of fasting, but the degree of this fasting varies by tradition and sect. Catholics, for example, are encouraged to follow stricter practices. Protestants, on the other hand, tend not to follow "church-mandated practices when it comes to fasts," reports Vox.
Catholics 14 and older aren’t supposed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent, according to USA TODAY who spoke to Father Michael Fuller, executive director of Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Fish is allowed.
The Conference of Catholic Bishops website states that, "When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal." (So...snacks, we guess.)
According to Vox, all Catholics — no matter how religious — are encouraged to fast from meat on Good Friday (March 30 this year), and The Conference of Catholic Bishops site also notes Ash Wednesday (Feb. 14 this year) as another day of fasting.
Really, Lent is 46 days long, but Christians observing Lent are told to break their fast on Sundays (and there are six Sundays during this period, hence 40 days).
Western Christianity typically allows people to pick what they wish to fast from — and this is why you hear talk of giving up one thing or another for Lent.
But why do people give things up for Lent?
Basically, to give up some comfort in our lives as Jesus did.
"In Lent, we can break down these walls that keep us tied down. By following Jesus into the desert, we can find that space to be vulnerable in between the joy of Christmas and of Easter," one blogger wrote. "Both are linked by the vulnerability of the God who comes down from heaven to earth, who took human form and who bore wounds in his side to stand alongside us in our own pain and our own struggles."
Some people also commit this time to community service and spiritual practices.
Here’s a nice informational video to sum it all up in preparation for Lent 2018:
So, when is Lent 2018?
Lent 2018 begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day!) and ends on Holy Thursday, March 29 (right before Good Friday). However, Christians often observe Lent until Easter (or the Saturday before Easter, Holy Saturday).
You can't spell Valentine without Lent.— Andrew Hedstrom (@ProtoApostoli) February 4, 2018
There is no love without sacrifice.
What should I give up for Lent 2018?
You may or may not have given up anything for Lent before. Many people abstain from sweets, a bad habit, maybe even a bad relationship (hey, you’re doing it for Jesus after all).
You can try taking this online quiz to decide what to sacrifice in 2018, and here are some more ideas from Twitter — a few serious, some bizarre, most just plain funny.
Giving up Selfies for Lent.— William Holman (@WilliamFHolman) February 13, 2013
Fast from the bad, embrace the good
Can I give up my student loans for Lent— Chris Dudenbostel (@chriskindafit) February 4, 2018
Target (or just your favorite store)
I think for Lent I’m gonna give up going to Target because honestly that’s the thing I’m most addicted to. I’m completely obsessed with going there every day and looking up and down every aisle. 😅— Cassandra Fite (@WifeOfAndre) January 26, 2018
If I give up beer for lent but not liquor... does it count— Mari (@iniguezmari_) February 7, 2018
And social media!
Im giving up alchohol and social media for lent this year. Im actually looking forward to it— Alex (@baby_aL10) February 7, 2018
Think I’m gonna give up rice for Lent again this year.— Sniper Ghost (@HandsomeHov_) February 8, 2018
New Year’s resolutions
I'm giving up my New Years resolution for #Lent— MikeLove (@mikefloyd_22) February 13, 2013
I think I’m going to give up carbohydrates and refined sugars this year for Lent.— Joshua (@jcdwm) February 7, 2018
Could you drive less for #40days? Why not give up your car for #Lent!— Sustrans (@sustrans) February 6, 2018
This year we’re encouraging you to give up driving for 40 days between Wednesday 14 February and Saturday 31 March. #Easter https://t.co/R8WZ41nSSb pic.twitter.com/6hqAG20QXl
@Harry_Styles I am giving you up for lent. Bye. 👋— ✨champagne mamí✨ (@ohthatashleyy) February 13, 2013