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Lent (Latin: Quadragesima: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday.
The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial.
The forty days of Great Lent includes Sundays, and begins on Clean Monday (two days earlier than Ash Wednesday) and are immediately followed by what are considered distinct periods of fasting, Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, which in turn are followed straightway by Holy Week.
Great Lent is broken only after the Paschal (Easter) Divine Liturgy.
The violet color is often associated with penance and detachment.
Similar Christian penitential practice is seen in other Catholic countries, sometimes associated with mortification of the flesh. A dated term in German, lenz (Old High German lenzo), is also related.
During the Great Lent Orthodox Faithful intensify their prayers and spiritual exercises, go to church services more often, study the Scriptures and the works of the Church Fathers in depth, limit their entertainment and spendings and focus on charity and good works.
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan.
Lent celebrants carrying out a street procession during Holy Week, in Granada, Nicaragua.
The fast was initially undertaken by the catechumens to prepare them for the reception of this sacrament.
Later, the period of fasting from Good Friday until Easter Day was extended to six days, to correspond with the six weeks of training necessary to give the final instruction to those converts who were to be baptized.