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The word "Lent" comes from an Old English word which simply means "long."
It is a time we prepare ourself for Easter?
Lent always comes during that time of the year when the days are getting longer and we are seeing more and more sunshine. And that's what lent is supposed to do for us - to shed more and more light in our lives so that the darkness disappears.
Lent has 40 days, not counting Sundays (Sundays are always a mini-celebration of Easter, and very seldom do we let anything interfere with our celebration of Easter each week), but it hasn't always been 40 days. The Church has changed it so it will be the same length as the days Jesus spent in the wilderness where he fasted and was tempted by the devil at the beginning of his public ministry.
When is Lent?
It's the forty days before Easter. Lent excludes Sundays (you math geniuses), because every Sunday is like a little Easter. Basically, it's about one-tenth of a year (like a tithe of time).
What does "Mardi Gras" mean?
Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday." It refers to the day before Lent starts. and since Lent always starts on a Wednesday, the day before is always a Tuesday (duh). And it's called "Fat" or "Great" because it's associated with great food and parties.
What do Mardi Gras parties have to do with Lent?
In earlier times, people used Lent as a time of fasting and repentance. Since they didn't want to be tempted by sweets, meat and other distractions in the house, they cleaned out their cabinets. So they used up all the sugar and yeast in sweet breads before the Lent season started, and fixed meals with all the meat available. It was a great feast! Through the years Mardi Gras has evolved (in some places) into a pretty wild party with little to do with preparing for the Lenten season of repentance and simplicity. Oh well. But Christians still know it's origin, and hang onto the true Spirit of the season. CLICK HERE FOR IDEAS AT THE HOLIDAY SPOT