Lent 2014: When Does It Begin and End? Suprising Answers

Lent 2014

For many Christians around the world, Lent is a season during which observers go through a time of fasting, self-denial, prayer and increased devotion to God.  The purpose of Lent is for people to imitate the period of time that Jesus Christ spent alone in the Judean desert fasting while resisting the temptations of the devil.  Because this period lasted for 40 days and nights, Lent also lasts for this same amount of time.  The question of when it specifically begins and ends, however, is a bit trickier to answer.  According to Scott P. Richert, an expert in the topic of Catholocism, it really depends on a few different things.   And, if your concern is about when fasting ends, you may find his answer to be surprising.

As far as when Lent begins, he says, it makes a difference which sect of Christianity you belong to.  In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, as well as those Protestant churches which observe Lent, it begins on Ash Wednesday, which occurred on March 5 in 2014.  However, for Eastern Churches — both Catholic and Orthodox — it begins on Clean Monday, which was on March 3 this year.  Clean Mondays originated as  a way to get a head start on the Lenten season by gradually easing into the days of dietary restriction that were to come.

As for when it ends, Richert says this depends what you mean by “ends.”   For many, he says, the real question on their mind is when does the fasting portion of Lent end.  The fast ends on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter).  Although Holy Saturday is 46 days after Ash Wednesday, it is actually the 40th day of the fast.  While the math might seem to be off at first, Richert assures us that it is correct.   The discrepancy arises from the fact that with Sunday being the day of Christ’s resurrection, all Sundays have come to be viewed as days of rest and worship.  Therefore, they are not included in the days of fasting and penance.  So, to bring the total number of fasting days up to 40, Lent was expanded to include six weeks containing six days per week of fasting plus four extra days — Ash Wednesday and the following Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

However, Richert notes, the liturgical ending of Lent is on Holy Thursday (April 17, 2014).  Specifically, according to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, it ends just before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening.  Holy Thursday is followed by the Easter Triduum, which is composed of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.  So, while Lent liturgically ends on Holy Thursday, the fasting and penance associated with the season continue through to Holy Saturday.

Richert says that some mistakenly think that Lent actually ends on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) because they believe that Holy Week is separate from Lent.  In actuality, it is simply the last week at the end of Lent.

By Nancy Schimelpfening


About.com Catholocism

About.com Catholocism

About.com Catholocism

A Global World

Fox News

International Business Times


4 Responses to "Lent 2014: When Does It Begin and End? Suprising Answers"

  1. christian1269   April 18, 2014 at 1:38 am

    “Lent” means you lend something to somebody, as in the past tense. When the lending ends, then Lent ends. What could be more clear? Except maybe when Jesus was born? Or where Obama was born—Rev. Al Sharpton says Obama is Jesus, so maybe there’s more here than expected. That’s the real reason we didn’t see his birth certificate, because it really had the father entry blank. Obama had a virgin birth. Even Obama showed the cartoon film clip of his birth, with all the animals bowing down to him. Obama wanted to amuse us. One thing people didn’t give up for Lent was worshiping Obama. Kenya lent us their child. Can we give it back to Kenya? The ending of Lent might be a good time. Just airdrop him into the Kenya jungles, where he’d feel much more at home, among his polygamist relatives. Some Obama critics did give up criticizing Obama for Lent. But it’s time to resume, and let loose the attack dogs and “uncivil” commentary, while we still have Free Speech and the drones haven’t taken too many pictures of our bedroom and bathroom. Someone suggested Obama should give up lying for Lent, but some behavior is so ingrained, we expect too much for even a 40 day lapse. After all, he was a lawyer.

  2. Sherri johnson   April 12, 2014 at 4:22 am

    Why does’ the Baptist Christian observe lent

  3. Nancy Schimelpfening   March 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Gyrofrog, thanks so much for that added information. Very interesting!

  4. Gyrofrog   March 5, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    In some Orthodox churches (for example, Ethiopian and Eritrean, but I believe others as well) Lent began on Monday, February 24th (and furthermore, always begins on Monday). This makes the fast (i.e. abstaining from meat, dairy, alcohol, and “havin’ thangs”) almost 8 weeks long. The reason for this (as I recall) is that while Lent does indeed last 40 days, in (some) Orthodox churches it does not include other fast days. For example, Mondays and Wednesdays are already fast days for most of the year (except between Easter and Pentecost). Thus, they are not counted among the 40 days. Similarly, Holy Week is a fasting period, but separate Lent (and some will go from Good Friday until Easter morning without eating or drinking anything at all). The effect is almost 8 weeks of continuous fasting, but not all 8 weeks count as Lent.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.