Beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting for 40 days, Lent is a solemn observance in the liturgical calendar and a preparation leading up to Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Traditionally, Lent parallels the Forty Days that Jesus spent in the wilderness following His Baptism by John the Baptist.

Lent has as its purpose self-examination and penitence, and self-denial, in preparation for Easter.

The history of Lent within the Church can be traced back to the earliest days of the church. St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season but then it lasted only two or three days, not the 40 observed today.

There is evidence that, in 325, at the Council of Nicaea, Lent as a 40-day Lenten season of fasting, was discussed, it's intent is unclear as to whether it was just for new Christians preparing for Baptism or everyone.

In the Eastern Church, in the early days, one only fasted on weekdays, while in the Western Church Lent included Saturdays. Regardless, the observance was both strict and serious with only one meal taken a day, near the evening and there was no meat, fish, or animal products eaten.

Until the 600s, Lent began on a Sunday, called Quadragesima or Fortieth Sunday. It was then that Gregory the Great moved the beginning of Lent to a Wednesday, which is now called Ash Wednesday, so that the exact number days in Lent would be 40, not counting Sundays, which are feast days. Gregory is said to have started the ceremony from which Ash Wednesday has derived its name. As Christians came to the church for forgiveness, Gregory marked their foreheads with ashes reminding them of sackcloth and ashes which is the biblical symbol of repentance and mortality, using the words: "You are dust, and to dust you will return."

By the 800s, some of the Lenten practices were becoming more relaxed and Christians were allowed to eat after 3 in the afternoon, by the 1400s noon. Eventually, various foods such as fish were allowed

While in Anglicanism, Lent is taken very seriously, in the Eastern Church its practice is even more strict.

Yet, the focus remains on a spiritual preparation, even a spiritual discipline augmented by a physical regimen, to make us meet partakers in the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.