Lent is one of, if not the oldest,yet still existing traditions in Christianity. Although times have evolved, the purpose for its existence still remains same.
Lent is practised as a time of prayer, fasting, self examination and highly demonstrated by the measure of Fasting to signify self denial. This is in preparation of Easter which significantly marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten meaning Spring, and also the word; lenctentid, which although literally means Springtime, also translates as “March” which is the month in which the observance of Lent usually falls in.
Lent was properly regularized after the legalization of Christianity in A.D. (after the death of Christ) 313.
The history of Lent dates as far back as when Father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of it in an epistle to the early Roman Catholic Church, explaining that it lasted for nothing less than 3days. Also, in 325 A.D , the Council of Nicea discussed a 40-day Lenten season of fast.
The number 40 is quite a significant number in the Scriptures- Moses spent 40days and nights receiving the 10 commandments (Exodus 34:28), 40 days of fasting and prayer which Jesus observed before being tempted in the wilderness (which significantly contributes to how Lent came to be a practice till modern day).
How the fast is practised varies from place to place. In some places, the only abstinence is from meat, while in most others, a Faithful engaged in the fast is to abstain from dairy products, fish, meat and eat only once a day, preferably in the evenings.
It is mostly practised even till date by Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists. Presbyterians also practise Lent but do not give up anything for the sake of it, and as for Baptists, it is said to be a choice not an obligation.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the mostly observed days of fast
This year, the period in which Lent is taking place already commenced with Ash Wednesday which held worldwide on the 6th of March and will last until April 18th.
Lent may be a traditional practice but it has not been written off till present day. In this season of Lent, it is expected that a Faithful remains in the atmosphere of sobriety and in turn, reflect on how to do good to others.