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').

Lent 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 meat were not allowed to be eaten during Lent. The restrictions were not only placed on the people through the church by also through statute law. The chief food of Lent 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.

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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).

Fight between Carnival and Lent
Fight between Carnival and Lent
Pieter the Elder Bruegel, 1559

"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 Lent).

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 further states that this period of lent 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 forty days before celebrating the pagan goddess Ishtar (and other goddesses) by people such as 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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