What you should know about Lent

By CNN staff

Published February 26, 2020

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Lent is a season of prayer and penance in the Christian church and is a period of preparation for the Easter season.

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Lent in the Western church begins Ash Wednesday and ends Holy Saturday, six and a half weeks later.

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In the Eastern Church, Lent begins on the Monday of the seventh week before Easter and ends on the Friday before Palm Sunday.


The word Lent actually comes from the Old English word "lencten," which means spring.

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During the season, fasting and prayer are done in remembrance and reflection of Jesus Christ's fasting in the wilderness.

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Lent lasts 40 days. Sundays aren't counted.


Fasting still continues but it's less strict now in the Western churches.

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Many people give up something during Lent, such as TV or other pleasurable activities. Engaging in acts of charity is another Lenten custom.