By the 4th century ad, a 40-day period of fasting in preparation for Easter was observed by Christian churches, and this season in the church year has become known as Lent. When counting the 40 days of Lent, however, Sundays are not included. Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent and has been observed since around the 8th century. This season provides a special time of prayer, devotion, self-denial, repentance, and reflection, with a special focus on the suffering and death of our Savior Jesus. With anticipation, we look forward to the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Some Christians “give up” something for Lent. This “sacrifice” serves as a personal daily reminder during Lent of the great sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for us and for our forgiveness. Giving up something for Lent can certainly be a wonderful benefit, but it is also a matter of Christian freedom and should never lead a person to judge or look down on others who choose not to. The goal is to keep our focus on our Savior Jesus who sacrificed His life on the cross for us and victoriously rose from the dead Easter morning!
One church tradition is to “put away” the “Alleluias” during the 40-day season of Lent. "Alleluia" is omitted from worship beginning Ash Wednesday until Easter, creating a powerful contrast. When a Saturday evening Easter Vigil is observed, the first “Alleluias” are proclaimed after sunset, and of course, Easter morning is filled with joyful “Alleluias,” celebrating the resurrection of our Lord, and continue through the rest of the church year!