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A Beginners Guide to Lent: Ideas for what to give up for Lent

Updated on February 29, 2012

What is Lent?

Lent is the 40 days that represent the Christian Liturgical Calendar that spans from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday.

The tradition of Lent

It is traditionally supposed to be time of prayer, pennance, fasting and other forms of self-denial, which Christians partake in as an effort to become more Christ-like. Over the course of time it seems like the message has lost some of it's meaning and the average non-Christians (and non-practicing/not-often-practicing Christians) most often consider this the time when people give up something for 40 days. I might consider another article about the history of lent at a different time, but for now I will just go over some of the Holy Days observed on the Lenten Calendar

Holy Days (the basics...)

  • Fat Tuesday: Not a strictly Christian/Lenten practice but this marks the day before the 40 days of Lent. People eat pazckis and take other excessive liberties since they know they will be giving something up until Easter Sunday.
  • Ash Wednesday: First Day of Lent. Observers get marked with ashes in the Sign of the Cross at Mass. These ashes are made of the burned Palm leaves from the previous years Palm Sunday (sometimes also known as Passion Sunday)
  • Palm Sunday:The final week of Lent before Easter. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week which people are supposed to try extra hard in their devotions to grow closer to Christ.
  • Holy Thursday: The last Thursday before Easter. This observes the last Supper and Jesus' pleas to His Father to spare him his fate (Crucifixion).
  • Good Friday: The last Friday before Easter. This commemorates the day of Christ's death on the Cross.
  • Easter Sunday: This commemorates the day that Christ rose from the dead. Easter Vigils (Midnight Mass) are also very common starting traditionally at Midnight on Sunday morning, but many churches have become more liberal with this and begin the service earlier on Saturday evening to accommodate the families in their Parrish.

The Purpose of Lent

Ideas for what to give up for Lent

Are you considering taking on some self-denial. It's often difficult to figure out exactly what to give up, since nothing really compares to dying for the worlds' sins... nailed to a cross, no less... but here are some good options:

  • Give up your pillow
  • Give up alcohol
  • Give up excessively long showers
  • Give up smoking
  • Give up TV
  • Give up fast food
  • Give up your car
  • Give up using your dishwasher (wash by hand)
  • Give up radio while in your car
  • Give up movies
  • Give up meat (not just on Fridays)
  • Pick a day to fast
  • Give up gambling
  • Give up talking behind peoples backs
  • Give up pop/soda
  • Give up makeup
  • Give up candy
  • Give up watching sporting event
  • Give up your watch
  • Give up your fan, if you sleep with a fan
  • Give up microwave dinners
  • Give up coffee
  • Give up sex
  • Give up your Ipod
  • Give up going out to dinner

Other options to consider at Lent

There are so many other options but those are just a few to help get you started thinking about it. You can also decide not to give up anything at all but rather focus on positive things you can be doing. This includes taking more time for personal prayer, volunteering at a soup kitchen or the hospital, shoveling an elderly neighbors snow, picking up someone's bill at dinner, and many other options that will help you to grow as a better person...

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