Lent is a period of 40 days that is observed by many Christians around the world. As a country with a Muslim majority, often we form some misconceptions around their beliefs and practices. But a little bit of much-needed research can help clear those up. In order to help us do that, one of our lovely Christian followers, Rosheen Sohail, has busted some of the myths surrounding the time of Lent. Scroll down to read them:
We Only Give Up Cooked Food
One of the major misconceptions that I have so many times come across is that we only give up cooked food, and can eat raw vegetables and fruit. This is false. When we fast, we give up everything including water. However, it’s a personal choice. The season of Lent does not mean just giving up food. It focuses on building a closer bond with God and sacrificing your worldly desires. It could be as simple as giving up meat for some people. It varies from person to person as Christianity believes everyone has their own personal relationship with God. Thus, the individual can decide how they want to strengthen that bond.
We Fast For 40 Days To Be ‘Different’
Another thing that confuses a lot of our Muslim neighbours is the fact that our Lent season comprises of forty days unlike Ramadan which is a period of thirty days. Many think that it is because we want to be perceived as different from them – this is not true. There is a solid reason for the Lent season to be a forty day long period. Christ fasted for forty days in the wilderness when he was being tempted by Satan. This was before he got right down to preaching. Lent season for Christians is a way to try to be like Christ and practice humility and simplicity. Since he fasted for forty days, our season of Lent is forty days long.
There Is A Specific Date For Lent Like There Is For Christmas
Another myth revolves around the determination of the Lent season and then consequently, Easter day. Most of the Christian holidays are easily determined as they have specific dates like Christmas which always falls on the 25th of December, or Thanksgiving which is always the last Thursday of November. Lent works pretty much the same way dates in Islam are determined: by using the lunar activity. Easter falls on the Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the ecclesiastical full moon of the northern spring. And then we must work our way backwards.
Lent Is Only About Fasting
The last and biggest misconception that many people have about Lent is the fact that they think it has to mean fasting, but it doesn’t. It is not mandatory like it is in Islam. Lent is a season that requires you to get closer to God – how you choose to do it is up to you. Many people like to practice abstinence during Lent. There is a difference between fasting and abstinence. What fasting means is eating one meal a day, whereas abstinence is letting go of things that seem unnecessary in life for those forty days. It’s all about coming closer to God. Some people find fasting to be an end to the means and other abstinence. So Christians around you may seem to be enjoying food, but if you look closely they might not be eating things they usually enjoy nor doing things that come as second nature to them. In other words, they might be practicing abstinence.
Christianity is a pretty complex religion. Understanding it takes time and effort but we do not mind you asking us. We are part of the same nation and so watching us do things differently is bound to raise some questions. In those times, simply walk up to us and ask us what the reason might be, instead of making assumptions.