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Display featuring a crown of thorns and cross with purple cloth heralds the beginning of Lent. File photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

What is Lent and why does it last forty days?

View our Lent and Easter topic page with links to all our resources!

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.

Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter" and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.

Lent and Easter

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Woman sits in park. Photo illustration by Ronny Perry, United Methodist Communications.

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