Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lent


Mike from Cadillac asked about the word Lent. In certain Christian circles, Lent is now the period including 40 weekdays extending from Ash Wednesday to Easter-eve, observed as a time of fasting and penitence.

The early Church did not at first agree upon the date of Easter, much less the amount of fasting that should go on, or even what one should fast from. By the 6th century, ecclesiastical law decreed that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. By then, a forty-day Lent had been deemed symbolically significant, no doubt influenced by accounts about Moses (Exodus 34:28), Elias (1 Kings 19:8), and Jesus (Matthew 4:2).

Lent came from an Old English word, lencten, that simply meant spring. The ecclesiastical sense of Lent eventually took over in English, but allied Germanic words retained the seasonal meaning.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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