Lent is a solemn religious observance beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending before Easter Sunday. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance and atonement of sins, almsgiving, and self denial to celebrate the mysteries of the Faith in the Holy Week marking the passion, death and burial of Christ and climaxing on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday.
During Lent, many Christians commit to fasting and giving up certain luxuries as a form of penitence, and receiving the sacrament of Penance. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as the Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s passion, death on a cross, and burial.
Many Roman Catholic and some Protestants churches remove flowers from their altars on Holy Friday, while crucifixes, religious statues, and other prominent religious symbols are often veiled in violet fabrics.
Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstention of the consumption of meat, derives its name from the blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday, and placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. Although Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligation, the ceremony is paramount because it predisposes a Christian for penance during Lent.