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What you should know about Lent

By CNN staff

Published March 6, 2019

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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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This year, Lent in the Western church is from March 6 to April 20. Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season, which 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.

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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.

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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.

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