Starting with Halloween, it’s a slippery slope through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day, a fast run full of overindulging and dietary no-no’s. Mardi Gras is often the crowning glory in a literal Fat Cake of Food. After so much indulgence, it’s almost with relief that we observe the calendar shifting to the more penitential observance of Lent. A solemn time of fasting and sacrifice, Lent is most commonly observed by Catholics and many of the Orthodox and Protestant religions.
Lent is observed as a 40 day period of time that begins on Ash Wednesday and culminates on Easter Sunday, although many religions differ in how to count the days. Traditionally, Lent is a time of spiritual discipline, in which you give up a favored food, be it dessert, coffee or chocolate. In the Middle Ages, a more strict observance of Lent required a total abstinence from any meat, eggs and dairy products of all kinds, feeling that a more sparse menu would lead to a greater religious experience. Modern rules have changed in most religions, but almost all observers of Lent use the time period to improve themselves.