Is giving stuff up for Lent a Catholic thing? Or do other Christian faiths do it too?

(58 Posts)
Jacksmania Tue 21-Feb-12 00:16:55

Just curious. Does anyone know?

And what's everyone giving up for Lent?

What are you meant to give up, anyway? And why are you meant to give anything up? It's all over FB what everyone is giving up and it's things like chocolate, meat, or sarcasm in one case grin - just wondering if that's really the spirit of the whole thing?

(More questions will no doubt pop up in JM's fertile brain.)

Moominsarehippos Mon 11-Feb-13 16:38:12

Countdown to Wednesday then...

What are we giving up then? Mumsnet?

wigglesrock Mon 11-Feb-13 16:45:11

I'm a catholic and I've never heard of the Sunday day off smile Although I do break it for St Patrick's Day and my Mum has always had a day off at Mothers Day. From when I was at school 30 years ago we were always encouraged to go on something rather than give something up. My kids are working on their teeth brushing!

niminypiminy Mon 11-Feb-13 16:51:06

Having Mothering Sunday as a break from fasting has a basis in tradition. In fact, that Sunday is sometimes known as Respite Sunday -- ie a day's respite from your Lenten fast.

KarenHL Mon 11-Feb-13 16:54:07

I am a Baptist, and usually give up something for Lent - it's not something that has come up in services or from leadership, just something I felt I wanted to do. A couple of years ago DH & I fasted for Lent, which meant we didn't eat from sun up, to sundown. I did allow myself drinks of water though (it was hot that year, I was working shifts outside, & would have been ill otherwise).

Having said that, Lent can be as easy or as challenging as you decide - one friend gave up listening to music last year. I couldn't have done that. Giving up something you don't really like in the first place isn't really the point. It's meant to be a sacrifice, even if it's only a small one. If you're not religious, or wanting/willing to try something different spiritually, why bother?

Lent is only 40 days, but this only works out if you give yourself Sunday off. I think that was partly because in Mediaeval times the sabbath was seen as a feast day (and most people would't have had much during the week).

In the past I've given up chocolate, sugar in my drinks/on cereal (& I can't think of the others, I have a cold which is giving me a fuzzy head). That was before I knew Lent didn't have to cover Sundays!

Last year, I used the 40acts website, which focussed more on doing something for the 40 days (and thinking), rather than on sacrificing something. I hadn't tried that before and it was interesting. Got me doing things that I might otherwise not have thought of. This year, we're doing a family Lent resource that I downloaded from Currclick. It does have more of a religious focus than 40acts, but believe it will get us thinking about some topics as a family.

niminypiminy Mon 11-Feb-13 16:57:28

Christian Aid's Count Your Blessings focuses on being thankful for what we have at the same time as giving to help those who have less -- they also have an app you can download: Count your blessings

KenDoddsDadsDog Mon 11-Feb-13 17:08:34

Have never heard of Sundays off at all. Bizarre.
We all did a day of Ramadan this summer as a charity day with a couple of colleagues. It was so difficult not being able to drink anything.

crescentmoon Mon 11-Feb-13 17:50:27

I really liked that about the video niminy that it talked about the values and lessons of Lent. And it's community orientation aspect also- I didn't know that about charity giving either.
I saw a thread recently about someone giving up mumsnet for lent I thought that even that would be extremely hard. I totally get and admire the sentiments of turning away from other idols/distractions and focusing on God.

MechanicalTheatre Mon 11-Feb-13 18:00:13

I'm nominally Church of Scotland and we never gave up anything for Lent. I never even heard of it til I moved out of super-prod land.

DandyDan Mon 11-Feb-13 19:41:28

Lent is 40 days.
It is only 40 days because you don't count the Sundays.
Otherwise it would be 46/7 days.

So, whether you are Catholic or Methodist or Baptist or C of E, or any kind of Christian who gives stuff up/takes stuff on for Lent, your Lent should last 40 days. You should not do your Lenten thing on a Sunday.

Sundays are a Feast Day - the Resurrection Day, the day of rest from the chores of the week. Sunday should not be treated as a day of penance and fasting and Lenten discipline. So the Lenten fast really should be broken on that day, for the other 40 days to make sense.

Otherwise your Lent will last longer than 40 days.

sashh Tue 12-Feb-13 05:53:29

I thought it was an RC thing, until I worked at a college where half the staff gave up something for lent.

I have a couple of relatives who give up alcohol. One was shocked when she was told the money saved should be given to charity.

I thought the Sundays off were if you are doing the whole thing, giving up meat, eggs, sugar etc. but on Sunday you could have meat/eggs.

Crescent

Some Jewish fasts are 25 hours, I think that has got to be hard. There was a TV programme a couple of years ago where non Muslims went to stay with Muslims during Ramadan and attempted to fast.

Chubfuddler Tue 12-Feb-13 06:21:14

What dandydan said about Sundays. If you don't lent would have an extra week.

I'm giving up chocolate. It will help with the weight loss. I did think about giving up alcohol but with the stress in my life right now there's no way I could.

Aftereightsarenolongermine Tue 12-Feb-13 06:32:17

I'm Greek Orthodox & we don't eat meat/fish/dairy/eggs for 40 days & no olive oil. There may be other things that are banned but I can't remember. On some of the days some of the above is allowed I always check with my dsil who is far more informed than myself. I just get the dcs to give up 1 thing that they like.

I was a vegan for years so the only thing I gave up was the oil. I'm fully fledged eating omnivore now but find banning the above quite hard as I get older.

KenDoddsDadsDog Tue 12-Feb-13 07:02:03

Well, blow me down. Sundays off. Mint. My Catholic education has failed me grin

Northey Tue 12-Feb-13 07:03:48

I don't think the point of Lent is to do exactly 40 days and no more...

KenDoddsDadsDog Tue 12-Feb-13 07:09:38

Yes I do know that before you go all catsbumface.

Northey Tue 12-Feb-13 07:22:01

I didn't meant you, kddg smile And I didn't mean to be catsbumface. I just wonder how Sunday off-ers kind of perceive the spirit of it, really.

KenDoddsDadsDog Tue 12-Feb-13 07:28:00

Sorry blush not very Christian of me.

DS3 is planning to do 40 acts of kindness, one for each day.

DD (8) wants to stop sucking her thumb in Lent.

DS1 suggested having a 40 day break from Minecraft, but I'd rather he made a commitment to use antiperspirant every day.

DS2 has decided he is going to stop fiddling with his genitals in front of other people.

Wishihadabs Tue 12-Feb-13 07:31:59

DH and I give up booze the dcs give up soft drinks. I was brought up catholic but more generic Christian now (we attend C of E church at the end of the road). For me it is an exercise in self discilpline . We also save money (£80 ish) which we give to charity and lose a couple of pounds.Not sure about Sunday's off, I only drink at the weekend anyway. I think I will do the whole6 weeks.

Northey Tue 12-Feb-13 07:37:44

Nor me, kddd - I did express it in a bit of a bumface way.

Elenio Tue 12-Feb-13 07:40:02

Greek Orthodox here too (struggling one!) and we also have lent. I find that a lot of people in Greece tend to not give up meat, oil ect for the while 40 days but only for Holy week prior to Easter. Many people do still fast for the whole 40 days.

Elenio Tue 12-Feb-13 07:41:40

Sorry for typos! Stupid phone

KenDoddsDadsDog Tue 12-Feb-13 07:56:17

Threebee grin some top ones in there.

Colyngbourne Tue 12-Feb-13 09:05:07

Sundays-off are not "Sundays-off because it's easier that way". It's "Sunday-off" because that is actually how Lent was set up by the Church - to remember the 40 days in the desert, but also to acknowledge that we should as Christians never fast on a Sunday - that it is totally wrong to treat the Sunday as a day of penance like any other in the week. That's why Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, because it is "40 days of penitential days, plus the Feast-Days of Sunday, to Easter". To do Lenten practice on the Sunday is both numerically incorrect and (IMO) theologically wrong. Each Sunday is a mini-version of Easter.

And the spirit of Lent? Well, it's not a religious version of a New Year resolution. It's not meant to be a practice that you adopt primarily as a thing to improve yourself (though as a secondary reason, it's perfectly good) and so it's not meant to be a practice that you feel you have to do non-stop by including the Feast-Sundays.

I think it's more to do with a re-focusing, and stopping doing things that maybe take away some of our time and energy and ability to look inward and prepare for what Holy Week and Easter will bring. It is time spent coming closer by God - and self-denial of various kinds can assist in this.

Northey Tue 12-Feb-13 09:33:17

Ah, that's really interesting colyngbourne, the theological side, I mean.

I suppose because I think of it as time not just for improvement through denial for denial's sake, but through things like renewed and positive attempts to act more kindly towards certain people, it is hard to get my head round having a day away from that. But actually am I doing it "wrong" and should I actually be aiming for denial after all?

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