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40 days and nights. A guide to Lent

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Now that Pancake Day is over, this could be a good opportunity to reflect on what you could cut out for Lent for the next 40 days and nights.

This is a time to test your endurance and give up a treat or bad habit.

What is Lent?

Lent is in the Christian calendar: a time for fasting and reflection in the run-up to Easter. The word Lent is an old English word meaning ‘lengthen.’ Lent is used to give up something for 40 days and nights.

There are different reasons why it’s 40 days:

  • In Genesis it took 40 days and nights for the flood which destroyed the earth
  • Moses fasted for 40 days on Mount Sinai
  • Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness

Find out more about the history of Lent here.

What could I give up?

The choice is entirely up to you. Think about something you use regularly that might not be good for you or you could do without.

Last year, OpenBible.Info analysed tweets to see what people were looking to give up for Lent. Topping the poll was school (although we would guess not many people did…) followed closely by chocolate, twitter, swearing and alcohol.

It doesn’t have to be a popular choice. It could be something personal to you. Look at what you do every day to see if there is something you might be interested in giving up. Ask family and friends.

Lent isn’t compulsory. If you do not have a faith, see it as a personal challenge.

How can I stick to my goal?

Giving up something you really enjoy, or are used to doing, will be difficult. There will be days where you will be desperate to have a taste of chocolate, a puff of a cigarette or bite into your nails if those are things you’re trying to give up.

Here are some tips to help you to stick to your goal this Lent:

  • Choose a reasonable resolution – Choose something which isn’t going to affect your day-to- day life too much. For example, if you decide to give up social media, how will this work if you need to trawl through tweets for your job?
  • Post reminders around your home – As long as it doesn’t affect anyone else in your home too much. Stick postage notes in the bathroom, kitchen and other rooms to remind and motivate you. Gentle reminders can spur you on.
  • Take up a new hobby – You might have more free time on your hands. Why not try a new activity? Take up a sport, evening class, read some new books or dig into a box set.
  • Think positive – There may be days when you want to go give in to temptation. Stay positive. Remind yourself why you’re giving up your vice.
  • Quitting smoking? – The NHS have ten self-help tips that can help you to extinguish the flame here.

Are you giving something up for Lent? Share your story with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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