Pancakes, fasting and the meaning of Lent

Tempted: In the Bible, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert.

Should you give things up for Lent? Millions of Christians are staying away from things like chocolate as part of the 40-day countdown to Easter. Is it better to take things up instead?

What’s happening

Chocolate. Fizzy drinks. Meat. Social media. Plastic. Could you live without any of these things for 40 days?

This week was the start of the Christian festival Lent. On Tuesday, people made pancakes to use up eggs, milk and flour. Now, many will try to give up their favourite things until Easter.

Find out more

This tradition comes from a Bible story in which Jesus spends 40 days fasting in the desert to become closer to God. He is hungry and is tempted by the devil, but he refuses to sin. When it is over, he begins to preach.

During Lent, Christians try to test their own self-discipline by giving up something they enjoy. This might be unhealthy foods or bad habits like smoking. Lent ends during Holy Week, which is followed by Easter Sunday. This is a celebration of Jesus’s life and resurrection.

Many religions have periods of fasting. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims do not eat while the sun is up. Hindus fast on certain days of the month, such as the full moon. Jews fast before the holiday Yom Kippur.

Should you give something up this year?

Some say…

Yes. It is a good way to break bad habits, like eating too many sweets or being mean to your siblings. When Lent is over, you might find it is easier to carry on avoiding them! For religious people, giving things up also means more time to reflect on God. Even if you are not religious, it is a reminder that you do not need chocolate to be happy.

Others think…

Rather than depriving yourself of something you like, why not take up something that is good for you instead? Perhaps you might start volunteering, learning a new language or exercising more. This still tests your discipline and makes you a better person, but you do not have to stop doing things you like. It is the best of both worlds!

You Decide

  1. Are you giving up — or taking up — anything for Lent?

Activities

  1. Write down five of the benefits of fasting or giving things up.

Some People Say...

“When you don’t have food in your life, just for a day, it makes you realise you’re lucky to have it the next day.”

Chris Martin

What do you think?

Word Watch

Lent
From an old English word for “lengthen”. Lent takes place in the spring, as the days get longer.
Fasting
Not having some (or all) kinds of food and drink.
Sin
Do something bad, in the eyes of religion.
Preach
Give sermons.
Self-discipline
The ability to control your own behaviour.
Resurrection
Coming back to life. In the Bible, Jesus died on the cross and came back to life three days later. This miracle proved he was the son of God.
Depriving
Stopping from having something.

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