While the Polar Vortex continues to pour icy problems on people around the U.S.A. and while political unrest and violence clouds the landscapes of many around the world, March sounds a Clarion call to Christians everywhere to prepare for the Lenten season. Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday which prepare us for Easter.
During Lent, it is customary for people to fast and pray and sometimes to take on some form of charitable activity. In some place, people not only give up some meal or food or drink, they also give up some favorite activity such as sex, sports, movies, and the like. There are no concrete rules about fasting during this time and consequently there is great variety among people who fast.
Like so many other religious rituals and celebrations, Lent has a questionable origin and its exact date and place of origin can only be speculated. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the earliest reference to Lent or "the period of 40 days," occurs in 190 C.E.
Because Lent is a long time of fasting and prayer, many people around the world prepare for this time by having a giant and intense party such as Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. This year, Ash Wednesday falls on March 5 and Holy Saturday on April 19. That means that Easter is on April 20.