Lent 2021: When does Lent start? When does Lent end?

Pope Francis attends Ash Wednesday mass in Rome

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Lent is the six-week period leading up to Easter, and a key period in the Christian calendar. Tradition dictates that observers give up something for the period to demonstrate repentance for their sins, and is observed by Christians from all over the world.

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, ‘Lent’ is an old English word meaning ‘lengthen’, and is observed in Spring when the days begin to get longer.

Traditionally, Christians would fast during this period and give up indulgent foods such as meat and cheese.

The period is also observed by non-religious people too, with people commonly giving up vices like chocolate for Lent.

When does Lent start? When does Lent end?

Lent in 2021 begins on Wednesday, February 17, and ends on Saturday, April 3, lasting 47 days.

Sundays are the one day of the week observers get free from their fast – so in total, Lent lasts 40 days.

The period begins on Ash Wednesday – the day after Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day in the UK.

The date changes every year, but usually starts in the latter end of February or early March.

Lent is used to commemorate Jesus, who once spent 40 days and nights fasting in the desert while being tempted by Satan.

In normal times, churches would hold services to mark the start of the 40-day period.

Ash Wednesday meaning: Why is Ash Wednesday celebrated? [EXPLAINER]
Why do we give up something for Lent? [INSIGHT]
Ash Wednesday 2021: What is Ash Wednesday? Does Lent start then? [ANALYSIS]

Why is Lent 40 days long?

40 is a significant number in Jewish-Christian scripture for a number of reasons:

• In Genesis, the flood which destroyed the earth was brought about by 40 days and nights of rain.

• The Hebrews spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the land promised to them by God.

• Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai.

Lent always ends on Easter Sunday, six weeks or so after it starts.

This year Easter Saturday falls on Saturday, April 3.

The week before Easter Sunday, known as Holy Week, is a huge week for Christian churches.

The week begins on Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem.

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