What Is Lent?


Lilly Combs


This past Wednesday you probably noticed a few people roaming around the halls with a dark cross on their foreheads. What does that mean exactly, and why do they do it? The cross symbol is created from ashes (from the previous Palm Sunday) that are put on the forehead during the Ash Wednesday mass. When the ashes are placed on the forehead by the minister, they usually say the words “remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). This practice celebrates the start of the Lenten season and is most commonly practiced by Catholics and Lutherans. The ashes and the saying help to remind everyone of their own impending deaths, like Christ’s own, and let them know they need to prepare for it.
While this may sound a little ominous, it is all for a happy ending. Lent is a time of penance, preparation, and the betterment of oneself. People who observe the Lenten season typically give something up, a bad habit like eating candy, for example, and don’t eat meat on Fridays. The act of not eating meat on Fridays is because ancient teachings say that Jesus died on a Friday, and they can eat fish because it is not a warm-blooded animal. This is why local churches typically have fish fries on Fridays during Lent. These fish fries help bring the community together during such an important time in the church calendar.
Need a full recap? The Lenten season starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday and is most commonly practiced by Lutherans and Catholics. Those that participate don’t eat meat on Fridays and give something up as a sacrifice to Christ because he gave up his life for them. This could even mean some menu changes in the cafeteria on Friday with the addition of ‘fasting friendly’ food, and many restaurants add fish to their menus. Lent is a time to reflect on yourself and prepare yourself for Christ.