When does Lent end in 2023? What is it, how long does it last and date Christian observance ends before Easter
Lent is a 40-day period that began in February
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Many Christians around the world are currently observing Lent - a religious period that started towards the end of February and lasts for 40 days. Lent is known as a time of sacrifice where many people give up items of luxury or indulgences - this is also known as a Lenten sacrifice.
The symbolism behind Lent is to mimic the sacrifices made by Jesus Christ as he entered the Judaean Desert in search of spiritual strengthening. So when does Lent end and what do Christians usually give up for the 40 days? Here’s what you need to know.
What is Lent?
Lent stems from the Old English word Lencten, meaning springtide or spring season, to mark the lengthening of days. It lasts for 40 days, beginning on Ash Wednesday up until a week before Easter to commemorate when Jesus went into the Judaean desert after being baptised by John the Baptist.
During his time in the desert, Jesus faced temptations from the devil and underwent a spiritual journey of self-discipline while fasting. Jesus’ journey into the desert is outlined in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
In the early days of Christianity, there are records of the tradition of fasting before Easter. However, different sects of Christianity observe Lent in different ways. The purpose of Lent is to prepare for Easter through prayer, repentance of sins, donating to those less fortunate, simple living and discipline.
When does Lent 2023 end?
Lent commences on Ash Wednesday and its starting date depends on when Easter falls - which always occurs on the Sunday after the Paschal full moon, following the vernal equinox. This year, that took place on Monday 20 March 2023.
Therefore, Easter will take place on Sunday 9 April. Lent lasts for 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, which is 8 April 2023. However, since 1969, many Christians stopped observing Lent on “Maundy Thursday” - Maundy meaning commandment - which is two days prior. This means, for many Christians, Lent will end on Thursday 6 April 2023.
What do people give up for Lent?
The goal of Lent is about spiritual and religious growth and to eliminate a vice or practice hindering a relationship with God. The purpose of Lent is absolution, so many Christians use this time to give up something which they over-indulge in. For this, people often forgo items of luxury or indulgence, such as sweets, junk food, alcohol, or meat.
But since Lent is about growth too, many people use this time to begin something new, such as establish friendships or relationships with loved ones, begin a new hobby or even take time out of their day to meditate.
After Lent, many people may wish to continue with what they have sacrificed or began during this period. It is also traditional to fast during this time, with many Christian denominations fasting up until Holy Saturday. Lent is the lead-up and preparation to one of the holiest periods in the Christian calendar, Easter.