Definition of Lent

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Lent is a Teutonic word that refers to a 46 day (40 days not including Sundays) religious observance that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Saturday before Easter (called 'Holy Saturday'). It is a time of fasting, introspection, and repentance practiced by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and other groups.

During the period of the middle ages, such foods such as milk, eggs and even mea were not allowed to be eaten during Lent. This decree was not only through a church ruling but also by statute law. The chief Lenten food was fish, and entries in the household accounts of King Edward III (who reigned England from 1327 to 1377 A.D.) show the amount of fish supplied to the king.

The term Lent in reference to a period of fasting before the resurrection of Christ is not found in the Bible. The fact that this observance was NOT practiced by the early New Testament church is confirmed by the Catholic Church. They state that there was NO tradition in the early New Testament church of fasting before Easter (a holiday they created in order to replace the keeping of the Christian Passover). following.

"We may then fairly conclude that Irenaeus (who lived between 130 to 202 A.D. and is considered a 'church father' by the Catholics) about the year 190 (A.D.) KNEW NOTHING of any Easter fast of 40 days . . .

And there is the same silence observable in all the pre-Nicene Fathers (those who lived before the Council of Nicea which took place in 325 A.D.), though many had occasion to mention such an Apostolic institution IF IT HAD EXISTED" (1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on the religious observance).

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According to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, today's Christian observance of Lent did not take full shape until the middle of the 5th century. Its origin in human history, however, may be far older than some realize. The Encyclopedia states that this period of time is actually a commemoration of the death of the pagan god Tammuz! They further state that legends claim his death was at the hands of a wild boar when he was about forty. Those who celebrated his death were encouraged to fast, cry and self-chastise themselves.

Originally, Lent was observed 40 days before celebrating Ishtar - Esotre, and other goddesses, by pagans such the Babylonians. It was also observed, at times, by the ancient Israelites (Occult Holidays or God's Holy Days by F. Coulter, 2nd edition, page 79).

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