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December 4, 2021
ARTS & LEISURE

Christmas Lent season begins

The Christmas Lent, which lasts for six weeks, began on Monday. The lent was set up by the Church to help the faithful prepare for the great feast of Christ’s birth. It evokes the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament, who spent their lives in prayer and lent, waiting for the Messiah. The earliest records of this lent come from the 4th and 5th centuries, from the writings of the Blessed Augustine and the Bishop Leo the Great of Rome. In the beginning, Christians did not use to fast in the same way and for the same length of time. Some used to fast for seven days, others for six weeks. The 1166 local synod of Constantinople set a standard length for this lent, deciding that all Christians should fast for 40 days, starting on November 15. By its length, this lent is meant to evoke Moses’ 40 days’ lent on Mount Sinai, while the prophet was waiting to receive God’s commandments set down in stone. In like fashion, by a 40 days’ lent, Christians purify their souls and bodies so they will be worthy to receive the Word of God, the Living Word, no longer written in stone, but made flesh and born out of the Holy Virgin.


The last day of the Christmas Lent (December 24), called Christmas Eve, is traditionally associated with a harsher lent: one should fast until late in the afternoon, when, in some regions, people use to eat boiled wheat mixed with fruit and honey, to commemorate the fasting of Daniel and the three young men of Babylon. In other areas, people fast on this day until the evening star comes out, a reminder of the star which heralded the Birth of the Lord to the Three Wise Men.

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