To outsiders, this period of penance and reflection can seem like one of the most austere and “medieval” of Christian practices. But while Lent’s roots are ancient (the regulations about Lent date back to 325 CE) there’s more than a little misinformation surrounding it. It’s not just the religious equivalent of a New Year’s diet.
1. All Christians Celebrate Lent
While in excess of a billion Christians observe Lent each year, not all Christians do. It is observed by Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Easter Orthodox, Lutherans, and Methodists. Whole swathes of Protestants don’t observe Lent — Baptists, Evangelicals, Pentecostalists, Latter Day Saints. Many other Protestant denominations recognize Lent, although the extent to which they alter their day-to-day lives varies greatly and is mostly a question of individual conscience. These disciplines include restricting food, giving up luxuries (including, in the 21st century, social media), and engaging in charitable work. Unlike Easter, it’s not a celebration.