Hello all, and thanks for reading! Before you read any further, I would like to point out that this article is not aimed at those who follow the Christian belief of Lent, but rather the many people who are unsure what Lent is. I understand that for many people, Lent is a religious holiday and for those people I wish all the success in the world in their personal sacrifice.
But for those of us who aren’t 100% sure what Lent is all about or who don’t follow Christianity, Lent is more than a bit pointless. In fact, it is just like New Year’s Day all over again! Thousands of people who feel the need, just because of the time of year and not for any religious purpose to give up something they enjoy.
Before I go into any further detail on why it is a bit pointless, I will first explain what Lent is. Lent is a period of 40 days in which Christians fast traditionally but in a more modern interpretation give up something they enjoy to represent the time Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the Devil. It also represents the time which the Apostles spent fasting when Jesus died. As you can see from this, it has great importance in Christianity all over the world.
However these days there are an increasing number of atheists and agnostics, particularly among the younger generation. Logic dictates, therefore that the custom of Lent should be slowly dwindling. But it isn’t! Many young people that I have spoken to who I know are not Christian are giving things up for Lent, from chocolate to biscuits. When I ask them why, they are usually unsure, or say “Because it’s Lent?”
Personally, I believe that non-Christians should not participate in Lent. For a start it, the fact that it has become something that you just do invalidates the emotional meaning behind the sacrifice. People come up with stupid things to give up that they will find easy to do without, and this makes a mockery of the whole affair. It degrades the sacrifice that many Christians believe in, and also insults it for no good purpose. In fact, many people don’t even realise they are doing it!
Some of the most popular things to give up Lent are chocolate, alcohol, fizzy drinks and biscuits. The aim of giving these things up is to help lose weight or become healthier. Many people start a diet at around Lent time. There are two problems with this. One is that, similar to New Year’s resolutions, you do not really want to give the thing up. You are doing it because you feel that you have to, or it is the done thing. This does not motivate you properly to make a positive change in your life, and you will end up resenting the change to your lifestyle and possibly find your cravings for the thing you have sacrificed has increased. The second problem is that at the end of Lent you have Good Friday, where the traditional breakfast is the very unhealthy Hot-cross Buns, and Easter where the traditional food is chocolate! After these few days of gorging yourself on chocolate, sweets and buns, going back onto the diet is going to be the last thing that you want to do, and you will find more and more reasons to put it off, all the while feeling bad about it. If you are not doing it for religious reasons, is it worth it?
Giving up something you enjoy for no real reason is also likely to make upset or depressed. With the current economic problems, you may have already had to sacrifice things you enjoy just to save money. Sacrificing another thing you enjoy would just serve to make the situation for you worse to endure, and what’s the point in that? In my opinion, better to be happy with the biscuits than miserable without!
For some people, giving something up at Lent can be the beginning of a positive change. They may give up chocolate and find that, come Easter, they just aren’t that fussed! Or maybe they will give up smoking or alcohol for the duration and find that it gives them the will power and strength to keep going. For those people, I have nothing but respect, however it is often the case that Lent is just a platform for them to make a change they had been meaning to make for a while. In that case, even if they aren’t Christian, Lent is for them!
Another benefit to Lent is that the money saved on biscuits, chocolate or pop can be used to pay for the sticky treats at Easter time! Once again though, if someone is giving something up to save money then they aren’t really doing it for Lent, they are doing it for financial gain. So is Lent for them? Maybe.
So, is Lent for you? Maybe you are Christian, maybe Lent is a platform for you to be greater or wealthier than before. In that case, Lent could be for you , and I wish you all the luck in your endeavours! However, if you are just giving up something for Lent because you feel you have too due to societal pressures, maybe it might be a good idea to skip Lent. A better idea, rather than giving something up, might be gaining something! Maybe you could get a gym membership, or do something off your bucket list. That way, you have done something that will be worth more to you and positively benefit your life, rather than sacrificing something.
And as for me? I am using Lent as a platform to really put my nose to the grindstone for the 500 Articles Challenge, as the librarian of my school library where I am writing this will attest to! So, no matter what your plans, I wish you the very best of Lent, or not-Lent, and thank you for reading!