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Lent is here again! It’s easy to find yourself worrying about what practices are the most important to partake in.
Whether you’ve been practising your whole life or are new to the tradition, you may have heard a number of things about Lent and are unsure about what’s actually true. Either way, there are a lot of myths out there about this part of the Christian calendar and we’re here to clear things up.
Here are five common misconceptions about Lent and the truth behind them:
1. Lent is Observed by All Christians
Since Lent a Christian tradition, it’s common to assume that Lent is celebrated by all denominations of Christianity. However, only a handful of denominations celebrate the holiday such as Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics. Eastern Orthodox churches also celebrate Lent but in a slightly altered form.
2. You Can’t Eat Meat
While you are encouraged to fast during Lent (meaning that you would have to give up meat) this doesn’t mean you have to give it up every day. Rather, meat is not eaten on Fridays during Lent or on Ash Wednesday. All other days, you can take meat. There is an exception, however, if meat is the particular thing you decide to give up for the duration of Lent. In this case, you have to abstain from it every day except Sundays.
3. You Can’t Eat Fish
Since it has been noted that you can’t eat meat on certain days during Lent, some people assume that you can’t eat fish either. This is a common misunderstanding as fish is a regular meat substitute on Fridays for Christian families and especially on Fridays during Lent and Ash Wednesday.
4. Lent is 40 Days
Many people assume that since Jesus fasted for 40 days, then, Lent should also be for 40 days. This is not totally wrong, this tradition actually is just over 6 weeks, lasting a grand total of 46 days. Sundays are not included in the 40 days count as they are considered “free days”. Those who have given up something (a food group or some form of technology) during Lent can freely enjoy the pleasures of it every Sunday. Think of it as a weekly break from a disciplined regimen.
5. Lent is about Jesus’ Death
Lent acts as a precursor to Easter, but it’s not about Jesus’ death or his resurrection. It’s actually to pay respect to the 40 days he spent in the desert before being captured and tried. Lent is a time to reflect on Jesus’ struggles and sacrifices while also being grateful for your privilege. Although his time in the desert happened years before his death and resurrection.
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