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What is Lent?
Lent, is the 40 day period of fasting and prayer from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday before Easter. The 40 days represents the time Jesus spent in the desert overcoming temptation by Satan. The period of Lent is preparation for the annual commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, celebrated during Holy Week. Lent is a Teutonic word , meaning spring season.
Shrove Tuesday – 8 March 2011
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent starts: the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It's a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins.
Shrove Tuesday is sometimes called Pancake Day after the fried batter recipe traditionally eaten on this day. The eating of pancakes is part of an ancient custom with deeply religious roots.
The name Shrove comes from the old word "shrive" which means to confess. On Shrove Tuesday, in the Middle Ages, people used to confess their sins so that they were forgiven before the season of Lent began.
Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it's the last day before Lent. During Lent there are many foods that some Christians - historically and today - would not eat: foods such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods. On Shrove Tuesday, therefore, they would eat up all the perishable foods that wouldn’t last the forty days. Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour.
Ash Wednesday - 9 March 2011
The Christian season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. The date of Ash Wednesday varies each year according to the date of Easter. It is always six-and-a-half weeks before Easter.
Ash Wednesday is a Christian festival. For Western Christian churches it marks the beginning of six and a half weeks of repentance, fasting and abstinence in preparation for the most important Christian festival of Easter.
Roman Catholic, Anglican and some other churches will hold services at which worshippers are marked with ashes as a sign of penitence and mortality. In some Churches the ashes used on Ash Wednesday are made by burning the palm crosses that were blessed on the previous Palm Sunday.
For Christians ashes are a symbol of being sorry for things they have done wrong and want to get rid of forever. It is also a reminder to them that we all come from ashes, and to ashes we all will return. For Christians, the marking on the forehead with ash marks the commitment to Jesus Christ and God.
Clean Monday - 7th March 2011
Clean Monday, also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or (in Cyprusonly) Green Monday, is the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic Great Lent. It always falls at the beginning of the 7th week before Orthodox Easter Sunday.
The common term for this day, "Clean Monday," refers to the leaving behind of sinful attitudes and non-fasting foods. Clean Monday—and thus Lent itself—begins on the preceding Sunday night, at a special service called Forgiveness Vespers, which culminates with the Ceremony of Mutual Forgiveness, at which all present will bow down before one another and ask forgiveness. In this way, people begin Lent with a clean conscience, with forgiveness, and with renewed Christian love.
Clean Monday is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus, where it is celebrated with outdoor excursions, a picnic of the foods that will be given up during the fasting period, and the widespread custom of flying kites. Eating meat, eggs and dairy products is traditionally forbidden to Christians throughout Lent, with fish being eaten only on major feast days.
In Galaxidi (Greece), the "Clean Monday" celebration is one of the messiest experiences you're likely to encounter. For over 200 years, residents have been holding a flour war the leaves everyone caked in colored flour from head to toe. After getting cleaned off you can enjoy the traditional Clean Monday dish of “lagana”, a flat bread with olive oil.
Palm Sunday – 17 April 2011
The Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday. It celebrates Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem for the Jewish festival of Passover. Great crowds of people lined the streets waving palm branches to welcome him. They spread branches on the road – and even laid down their clothes. They shouted 'Hosanna!' which means 'Save us Now!' When the crosses used in the Palm Sunday service are converted to ashes, the worshippers are reminded that defeat and crucifixion swiftly followed triumph.
But using the ashes to mark the cross on the believer's forehead symbolises that through Christ's death and resurrection, all Christians can be free from sin.
Holy Saturday is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week, in which Christians prepare for Easter.