Giving up something to give back. What is Lent and 5 things you should know about Lent in 2023

What is Lent … why people give things up? Keep reading to hear some thoughts on Lent in 2023, get some inspiration on things to give up and learn 5 facts about Lent.

30 January 2023

Family standing in front of a tent

How familiar are you with Lent? Perhaps you have given up something on the 40 days build up to Easter in past years.

Lent is the spiritual preparation before Easter, celebrated by Christians all around the world.

But how much do you really know about what it is and why people give things up? Keep reading to hear some thoughts on Lent in 2023, get some inspiration on things to give up and learn 5 facts about Lent.

What is Lent?

Lent is an important festival in the Christian calendar. It honours the story of Jesus’ 40 days and nights spent in the desert, where he fasted and avoided temptation from Satan.

“Lent” comes from an Old English word for “lengthen”. It refers to the gradually lengthening days of early spring (in the northern hemisphere, that is).

Traditionally, there are several foods which some Christians avoid during the six-week period such as meat, eggs, fish, dairy and wine. More often, people choose to mark Lent and remember Jesus’ fasting by abstaining from just one thing which they really enjoy.

What are the three pillars of Lent?

Particularly in Catholicism, you may hear about the ‘three pillars of Lent’. The first of these is almsgiving, which in simpler terms means charity, or helping those in need. The second pillar is fasting, in other words, giving something up. Finally, the third pillar of Lent is prayer.

When is the first day of Lent 2023?

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on the 22nd of February this year. Lent is a period of penitential preparation for Easter. Good Friday falls on April 7th this year, with the Easter weekend following. Easter ends with Easter Monday on the 10th of April.

How long is Lent and when does it end?

Lent lasts 40 days – not including Sundays! So technically this makes it 46 days, from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday. This year, the last day of Lent falls on April 6th.

When is pancake day 2023

Shrove Tuesday (or pancake day) falls on February 21st, 2023. It’s the day in the Christian calendar which sees us crack out the eggs and flour and eat pancakes.

But why do we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Traditionally, pancakes are eaten as a last chance to use up the eggs and fatty food in the cupboards before the 40 days of Lent fasting begins. Pancakes have a long history and appear in cookery books as far back as 1439! More often these days, pancakes are eaten as a fun indulgence before we give up just one luxury over Lent.

Things to give up for Lent

With Lent just around the corner, many of us – religious or not – are thinking about what we can give up.

Was Dry January a little more ‘damp’ than planned, and you want to challenge yourself to 40 days without booze? Perhaps you’re still feeling the waistband pinch from Christmas chocolates and need a sugar-free Lent, before it all starts again at Easter? Could you cope with a Lent free of coffee, your favourite show to binge-watch, swearing, gossip or takeaways?

Whatever you choose to forgo, at the same time you can support families affected by disaster. By giving up one thing this Lent you can help raise enough money to provide tents and other shelter essentials to families who need it the most. From cake, flat whites, or Facebook, by giving up something for Lent and raising money in aid of ShelterBox, you can help families stay safe and start again.

Join our Tent for Lent campaign and give something up whilst raising money for those who are in desperate need this Lent.

Join Tent for Lent
Several ShelterBox supporters took Lent in 2022 to the extreme, choosing to camp out in a tent and give up their bed over the 40 nights, all to raise vital funds for families left without shelter following a disaster or crisis.

Kate did just this in 2022. She said, “When the boiler had a fault, I was plunged into cold freezing conditions. The next day an envelope came through the door advertising the Charity ShelterBox asking for donations for emergency shelters and lifesaving essentials for families all around the world let without a home due to war, conflict, or disaster.

“During Lent we are encouraged to go without or give something up, so I gave up my bed to spend six nights (20th – 25th March 2022) in a tent, hoping to raise enough money to house a family in need.

“This idea of raising money for Charity came to me one month before the atrocities in Ukraine. The fundraising idea of sleeping in a tent has given people the opportunity to help in some way towards the plight of people in the world by supporting the work that ShelterBox do.”

Find out more about our Tent for Lent campaign and sign up today to start fundraising for communities struck by disaster.