What is Lent and where did it come from?

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This is the first Friday of Lent for Christians, but they're not the only ones who fast

(WYTV) – What is this time called Lent? What are the rules around giving up something and why?

The word “Lent” comes from an old English word meaning “spring.”

It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday. That’s 40 days if you don’t count Sundays. Sundays are kind of your free day.

Lent’s 40 days represent Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert before he began his preaching.

Christians prepare for Easter by doing the same thing, fasting or some sort of penance. Penance can be giving up something we really enjoy.

A Twitter poll showed people giving up social media or alcohol — or Twitter itself.

Lent began in the 4th century with strict rules — one meal a day, only in the evening. No meat, no fish, no animal products.

By the 15th century, Christians were allowed to eat by noon. Eventually, fish became OK and in 1966, the Roman Catholic Church restricted fast days to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

What’s fasting? One meal a day or maybe two smaller meals.

The Eastern Orthodox churches and Roman Catholics, as well as Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and the Methodists observe Lent. Baptists and other evangelical denominations are less likely because they say the Bible never mentions Lent.

Christians aren’t the only ones who fast. Muslims also fast during Ramadan and Jews fast on Yom Kippur.

So fasting means one meal, abstinence means no meat and that’s on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays during Lent.

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