Today is the second official day of Lent. Lent is a season on the Christian calendar that celebrates the 40 days before Easter. Many Christian sects, including Roman and Orthodox Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Episcopalians take this time to renew themselves spiritually and prepare for Easter.
Lent started Wednesday, on what is known as Ash Wednesday. That’s why you might have seen people with a smudgy cross on their forehead. They didn’t just forget to wash their face; they’ve started celebrating Lent.
However, I’ve noticed a trend in recent years among some of my non-Christian friends of celebrating Lent. “Celebrated” might seem like the wrong word to some, because traditionally, someone gives something up during Lent. Past Lenten resolutions of mine have been candy, caffeine, after-school snacks, procrastinating and even my beloved Facebook and Twitter.
Some sort of junk food is probably the most common thing to give up. For most people, clearing the pantry of sweets and avoiding fast-food restaurants isn’t as hard as they thought it would be, especially with the support of friends or family.
One interesting thing I’ve seen people give up for Lent is swearing. I always have two questions for them: “How exactly are you going to stop yourself from cursing when you suddenly stub your toe?” and “Are you going to use excessive profanity on Easter Sunday to celebrate?”
Those questions are the reason why I will never give up something heinous for Lent; I’m scared of all the pent-up nagging my mother will let herself do on Easter.
Another, potentially easier way to observe Lent is to add something positive to your life. Christian friends of mine have included reading the Bible or praying a rosary every day, and say it’s difficult to stop this good habit after Easter.
Some simple, positive things to add to your life include meditation, complimenting someone every day, working out or trying to always say “please” and “thank you,” no matter how small of a task.
Even if you haven’t celebrated Lent and Easter, or you’re vehemently against organized religion, I’d really recommend trying to do something. “40 days” sounds a lot better and more interesting than “a month.” Plus, now could be a great time to restart any failed New Year’s resolutions. Incorporating elements of faith can make these resolutions easier or seem more meaningful. You’ll also be able to support friends when they say “I can’t. I gave up chocolate for Lent,” and you’ll have a more exciting reason to celebrate Easter than just a giant bunny that, somehow, lays eggs.
• Courtney Phelan is a senior at Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.