Lent – Religious Commitment or Pop Culture Fad?

Lent is a time for Christians to sacrifice something important to them for forty days as a way of strengthening their faith.

Photo courtesy of smcaustin.org

Lent is a time for Christians to sacrifice something important to them for forty days as a way of strengthening their faith.

Bridgette Roberts, Photojournalist

The religious period of forty days preceding Easter, known as Lent, is an annual tradition that Christians participate in. Starting on Ash Wednesday and lasting until Easter Sunday, Lent is where people give up something important to them in order to resemble and connect with the idea of Jesus sacrificing his life for the sake of others. However, to many people, it has evolved into an excuse just to lose weight or detox their bodies. Despite these superficial Lent participants, numerous people devote themselves to this holiday for the entire length of time.

Some of the most common sacrifices people make during Lent include giving up smoking, drinking, junk food, or dessert. Although these are commonalities that people give up, they are still challenging to be without for that long. Why do people partake in Lent then? A major reason is its religious relevance; especially for Catholics, the forty days of Lent are almost as huge of a holiday as Christmas. Every Friday, Catholics are not allowed to eat meat, and they are also not supposed to say the word “Hallelujah” for the entire period of Lent. Catholics will be seen walking around on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, with a black cross of ash on their foreheads. The day before Ash Wednesday is known as Fat Tuesday, which also happens to be Mardi Gras. On this day, those who partake in Lent rid their pantries of any items they plan to give up and consume many rich and often unhealthy foods as a last hurrah before sacrificing that item for the next forty days. Kailyn Case (12) mentioned how “being a Catholic can be difficult during Lent due to the many restrictions that we have to abide by. However, it always brings me closer to God by the time Easter comes around.”

Christians participate in abstinence, fasting, and prayer during Lent to strengthen their faith. Each year, they aim to finish Lent a stronger person of faith than when they began. Many times, people are successful in not indulging in a certain food or activity for that period of time. However, it is extremely common for people to claim they want to give up chocolate and then accidentally (or intentionally) eat some the next week for a friend’s birthday.

No matter what one’s religious beliefs, Lent can be a short period of time for people to reflect upon and challenge themselves to give up something and see how well they handle sacrifice. Although many people who are not dedicated followers of Christ claim to participate in Lent, the majority of people still partake in it for its original intent. Inevitably, popular culture seeps into every aspect of life; it is what people learn from Lent and making a sacrifice that truly matters.