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Is giving stuff up for Lent a Catholic thing? Or do other Christian faiths do it too?

(58 Posts)
Jacksmania Tue 21-Feb-12 00:16:55

Just curious. Does anyone know?

And what's everyone giving up for Lent?

What are you meant to give up, anyway? And why are you meant to give anything up? It's all over FB what everyone is giving up and it's things like chocolate, meat, or sarcasm in one case grin - just wondering if that's really the spirit of the whole thing?

(More questions will no doubt pop up in JM's fertile brain.)

miaowmix Tue 12-Feb-13 22:37:03

DD attends C of E school, where they do practice Lent. She has announced she is giving up whingeing or maybe being angry (because she does quite enjoy it). She is 6 smile.

PureQuintessence Tue 12-Feb-13 22:34:31

Lutherans too.

MikeOxardAndWellard Tue 12-Feb-13 22:33:40

Orthodox too <waves>

banterbus Tue 12-Feb-13 22:20:47

I was raised a Roman Catholic, went to an RC primary and secondary, went to church every week... and only at the age of 24 did I find out that Sundays don't count?!

I'm giving up chocolate and coca cola!

Aftereightsarenolongermine Tue 12-Feb-13 21:32:24

I'm actually struggling with what to give up this year. I don't eat gluten & don't really eat cakes or biscuits. I rarely drink alcohol due to medication I not that keen on chocolate anymore, & I don't eat nuts & crisps...

Dcs suggested tea but since that's my only real 'vice' I'm not sure if I can. Any ideas gratefully received.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 12-Feb-13 19:37:08

I am Anglican and practise Lent.

I give up something difficult for me and give the money saved as almsgiving.

I also take up special devotions each year, by joining a pop-up home group with other church family.

I have Sundays off as Sunday is always a celebration day.

Our church is really supportive with Lent. We always have a Lent Project which is the beneficiary of our almsgiving. It's made accessible to everyone by not being too big (those who can handle big can organise themselves). This year, we are doing 'Sandwiches for Lent'. Although this takes place on a Sunday, the idea is to have Sunday lunch with other families (especially new families to church), and then to serve up just sandwiches instead of the usual roast. We get to build relationships within our church family, save a fortune on food, and a lot of stress for the cook.

I work with a couple of church-going Catholics who are giving up chocolate and make a fuss about the hardship (they haven't read the bit in the Sermon on the Mount about fasting, obviously). Honestly, how much hardship is this for women in their 40s and 50s? They have not moved on from age 8, which doesn't say a lot for their spiritual maturity.

harrietspy Tue 12-Feb-13 10:41:11

northey, you're right - it would be perverse to give up a positive behaviour!

I completely understand about feast days, but I'm not trying to observe Lenten ritual as it was originally established by the church. My Lent practice (giving up telly & internet) isn't about penance, it's about making space for more reflection and authentic connection. I love that the word 'lent' comes from the OE 'lencten' which referred to spring, or the coming of longer days. Lent can be about turning away from the dark and leaning into the light. Doing it for more than 40 days might not be orthodox, but I'm ok with that.

moonbells Tue 12-Feb-13 10:30:32

I am C of E and have been trying (with varying success) to give up something for Lent for over 20 years. The very first time I did it, I gave up sugar in coffee. I never needed to use it after that. Sadly every time I give up chocolate, it doesn't have the same effect!

Best one I have done is to go vegetarian. It's not as hard as it once was, but it's better for the planet to be veggie (eating grains directly rather than feeding them first to a cow) and also reminds me (the spiritual aspect) that there are folk out there who don't eat meat because they simply can't afford it or it's not available due to environment. That is food for thought (and prayer).

Sadly I like (sustainable) fish too much for being veggie all the time! This year I'm on the 5/2 diet and will try and do the fast days as veggie.

Northey Tue 12-Feb-13 09:33:17

Ah, that's really interesting colyngbourne, the theological side, I mean.

I suppose because I think of it as time not just for improvement through denial for denial's sake, but through things like renewed and positive attempts to act more kindly towards certain people, it is hard to get my head round having a day away from that. But actually am I doing it "wrong" and should I actually be aiming for denial after all?

Colyngbourne Tue 12-Feb-13 09:05:07

Sundays-off are not "Sundays-off because it's easier that way". It's "Sunday-off" because that is actually how Lent was set up by the Church - to remember the 40 days in the desert, but also to acknowledge that we should as Christians never fast on a Sunday - that it is totally wrong to treat the Sunday as a day of penance like any other in the week. That's why Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, because it is "40 days of penitential days, plus the Feast-Days of Sunday, to Easter". To do Lenten practice on the Sunday is both numerically incorrect and (IMO) theologically wrong. Each Sunday is a mini-version of Easter.

And the spirit of Lent? Well, it's not a religious version of a New Year resolution. It's not meant to be a practice that you adopt primarily as a thing to improve yourself (though as a secondary reason, it's perfectly good) and so it's not meant to be a practice that you feel you have to do non-stop by including the Feast-Sundays.

I think it's more to do with a re-focusing, and stopping doing things that maybe take away some of our time and energy and ability to look inward and prepare for what Holy Week and Easter will bring. It is time spent coming closer by God - and self-denial of various kinds can assist in this.

KenDoddsDadsDog Tue 12-Feb-13 07:56:17

Threebee grin some top ones in there.

Elenio Tue 12-Feb-13 07:41:40

Sorry for typos! Stupid phone

Elenio Tue 12-Feb-13 07:40:02

Greek Orthodox here too (struggling one!) and we also have lent. I find that a lot of people in Greece tend to not give up meat, oil ect for the while 40 days but only for Holy week prior to Easter. Many people do still fast for the whole 40 days.

Northey Tue 12-Feb-13 07:37:44

Nor me, kddd - I did express it in a bit of a bumface way.

Wishihadabs Tue 12-Feb-13 07:31:59

DH and I give up booze the dcs give up soft drinks. I was brought up catholic but more generic Christian now (we attend C of E church at the end of the road). For me it is an exercise in self discilpline . We also save money (£80 ish) which we give to charity and lose a couple of pounds.Not sure about Sunday's off, I only drink at the weekend anyway. I think I will do the whole6 weeks.

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 12-Feb-13 07:28:01

DS3 is planning to do 40 acts of kindness, one for each day.

DD (8) wants to stop sucking her thumb in Lent.

DS1 suggested having a 40 day break from Minecraft, but I'd rather he made a commitment to use antiperspirant every day.

DS2 has decided he is going to stop fiddling with his genitals in front of other people.

KenDoddsDadsDog Tue 12-Feb-13 07:28:00

Sorry blush not very Christian of me.

Northey Tue 12-Feb-13 07:22:01

I didn't meant you, kddg smile And I didn't mean to be catsbumface. I just wonder how Sunday off-ers kind of perceive the spirit of it, really.

KenDoddsDadsDog Tue 12-Feb-13 07:09:38

Yes I do know that before you go all catsbumface.

Northey Tue 12-Feb-13 07:03:48

I don't think the point of Lent is to do exactly 40 days and no more...

KenDoddsDadsDog Tue 12-Feb-13 07:02:03

Well, blow me down. Sundays off. Mint. My Catholic education has failed me grin

Aftereightsarenolongermine Tue 12-Feb-13 06:32:17

I'm Greek Orthodox & we don't eat meat/fish/dairy/eggs for 40 days & no olive oil. There may be other things that are banned but I can't remember. On some of the days some of the above is allowed I always check with my dsil who is far more informed than myself. I just get the dcs to give up 1 thing that they like.

I was a vegan for years so the only thing I gave up was the oil. I'm fully fledged eating omnivore now but find banning the above quite hard as I get older.

Chubfuddler Tue 12-Feb-13 06:21:14

What dandydan said about Sundays. If you don't lent would have an extra week.

I'm giving up chocolate. It will help with the weight loss. I did think about giving up alcohol but with the stress in my life right now there's no way I could.

sashh Tue 12-Feb-13 05:53:29

I thought it was an RC thing, until I worked at a college where half the staff gave up something for lent.

I have a couple of relatives who give up alcohol. One was shocked when she was told the money saved should be given to charity.

I thought the Sundays off were if you are doing the whole thing, giving up meat, eggs, sugar etc. but on Sunday you could have meat/eggs.


Some Jewish fasts are 25 hours, I think that has got to be hard. There was a TV programme a couple of years ago where non Muslims went to stay with Muslims during Ramadan and attempted to fast.

DandyDan Mon 11-Feb-13 19:41:28

Lent is 40 days.
It is only 40 days because you don't count the Sundays.
Otherwise it would be 46/7 days.

So, whether you are Catholic or Methodist or Baptist or C of E, or any kind of Christian who gives stuff up/takes stuff on for Lent, your Lent should last 40 days. You should not do your Lenten thing on a Sunday.

Sundays are a Feast Day - the Resurrection Day, the day of rest from the chores of the week. Sunday should not be treated as a day of penance and fasting and Lenten discipline. So the Lenten fast really should be broken on that day, for the other 40 days to make sense.

Otherwise your Lent will last longer than 40 days.

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