In the Christian faith, the 40-day fasting period between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday takes place from February 14 to March 30, 2024. Sundays are not counted as so-called holidays of the resurrection. This custom can be traced back in the history of Christianity to the 4th century and is still practiced today by believing Christians. Lent is the time before Easter and commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. Lent begins directly after Carnival.
It is characteristic of Lent that no Hallelujah and only the Gloria are sung at high feasts. Furthermore, the church bells also remain silent during the period between the Gloria of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday until the Gloria in Easter Vigil. During this period ratchets are used as a substitute. In addition, there is no floral decoration in the churches except on the Lätare, the fourth Sunday of Lent. The so-called altar retables, i.e. the panels located behind the altars, are often closed during Lent, so that only the simple back can be seen. From the fifth Sunday of Lent, the crosses and statues are also covered with a violet cloth.
During Lent, believers should primarily pray, fast and give. In this way they also fight against poverty and injustice in the world. While prayer and fasting often represent personal aspects of Lent, giving is often lived out through the support of aid organizations or relief organizations of the Church. Fasting, however, is not exclusively about the renunciation of food. Rather, it is a time of reflection that faithful Christians use to become aware of their lives and to prepare themselves for the forthcoming celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The biblical background of Lent is the 40 days and 40 nights that Jesus spent in the desert led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus had to prove his faith by resisting the temptations of the devil. The number 40 has a symbolic character in the Bible and stands for a time of change or transition and preparation. For example, the Flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights and after the baptism Jesus withdrew for 40 days and for 40 years the people of Israel marched through the desert.