March 9th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

Explain it to me: What's Lent? And what are you giving up?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the season when many Christians give something up in the weeks before Easter. It's a nod to Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert before beginning his ministry. 

Some folks are giving up Facebook. Others are cutting down on their carbon emissions.

Are you giving something up? If so, let us know - and explain your choice.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Easter • Holidays • Lent

soundoff (1,213 Responses)
  1. Matrix

    Well, I'm not a Christian. I will give up Lent for Lent.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  2. NicoNYC

    I am going on a 40 day juice feast. No soilid food, no coffee, no dairy, no alcohol. I do it in honor of my mother who had to undergo a massive dietary change when she become a cancer patient. I did it for 30 days last year right after she started her treatment.

    Last year, I gave up cursing. For every curse I said I had to put a dollar aside. In the end, I sent $75 to charity.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  3. Mary

    I am giving up on giving up something

    March 9, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Chris

      "I'm giving up giving up something"....as funny as it is original.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  4. Toph

    I never give up anything. I don't believe in any of what religion tries to sell. Why would I support any sort of an organization that hides pedophiles?

    Why would I listen to anything that preaches hatred, bigotry and racism? I

    Actually, I gave up religion, many, many years ago for Lent and I sure never have gone back. The whole idea of some supernatural being in the sky is just preposterous.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  5. Ants?

    There should be an age limit on the pope, they get a little strange at the end, how about a ten year term max, no younger then 40 no older than 65, any why does he need the Pope-mobile? I would think God would protect him.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  6. Hutch

    I'm fasting, but more importantly I'm going to adoration to take advantage of the season and try and draw closer to God. The actual point of Lenten sacrifice.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  7. Diana

    Giving up ice cream... because I love it and it's not good for me. Also giving up nail biting.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  8. Beth

    Giving up facebook–frees up time for face-to-face relationships and prayer

    March 9, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  9. Luis Wu

    I'm giving up all hope that people will eventually have some intelligence and stop believing in archaic old myths and fairytales.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  10. JR

    I'm giving up alcohol. I'm not an alcoholic, but regularly have a beer or two with friends on the weekends. It will be difficult, but that's the point right? I know my friends will bombard me with free beers to try to get me to drink, but the point is that this is a difficult thing, a personal sacrifice, and something people think I won't be able to do. I'm excited to prove them all wrong and prove to myself that all things are possible through Christ who gives me strength.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  11. Frits Rincker

    Religious information does not belong on a news channel. Religion is pushed because people that are jewish, christian or muslim are more gullible and better consumers.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Chris

      One of the dumbest things I've ever heard.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  12. bman58


    March 9, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  13. roly

    Lent is not Christian, only catholic.

    Matthew 15:9, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
    Romans 10:3-4 "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
    1 Timothy 4:1-3 1Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • me

      Not true. Methodists also observe Lent.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Joe

      Indeed, it isn't true, numerous non-Catholic Christians practice the reception of ashes today. It is not a "Catholic only" ritual.

      Your citations of Sacred Scriptures have nothing to do with the task at hand, since receiving ashes is not a command or a requirement for Catholics...They are just the typical stock-verses without discernment tossed around by Christians who don't understand other Christian practices that they don't do.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  14. Gina

    Instead of posting negative comments, how about looking at it from a different perspective. Whether you believe or not, lent is a time where people reflect on their decisions and look to try to do something better for themselves or others.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  15. SoPoJim

    In a nutshell,all so-called Christians will be displaying their inability to reason and will be giving up thinking. I on the other hand will be giving up the same thing I've given up every year since I figured out that religion is a farce....sacrificing! I'm already planning to go to a steakhouse on Good Friday! Uh oh,that will doom me to hell,right? See how silly it all is?

    March 9, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • one word for your attempt at cleverness...


      March 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Jesusfreakazoid

      Giving up thinking for lent? Makes sense to me.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  16. Dana

    I am giving up Dunkin Donuts coffee- but I'm including any coffee that I would purchase in a take away cup. I am giving up something that I enjoy, but isn't that good for me, and also saving money. Trying to cut back on everything thesse days, and Lent is a good reason to start.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  17. Carol Ann

    I've given up taking the elevators at work. It's now the stairs, all day, every day! But it's not just for Lent, it's for my health as well.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  18. Jon

    I don't get why people think that by denying themselves something, they somehow impress the Creator of the Universe who owns everything. I wish these people would do some BIBLICAL research as opposed to just listening to whatever their clergy tells them.

    Hmmm...I don't see any biblical basis for this religious tradition. As a matter of fact, Matthew 6:16 speaks of "disfiguring their faces" or changing the way their face looks so people think they are religious. I wonder if rubbing ash on my head fits that category.

    Praise the Lord. All I ever had to give up in order for the Creator to be pleased with me was my sin!

    March 9, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • J

      you obviously to do not know the catholic religion and you should not speak what you do not know about

      March 9, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Joe

      Your comments show an interesting lack of biblical research. Have you ever considered why Jews donned sackclothes and tossed ashes and dirt upon themselves???

      Yes, quite biblical...

      March 9, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Todd

      Its about identifying with the life of Jesus and making a personal observance of all that he experienced for humanity. Wanting to know Him in the fellowship of his sufferings and the power of his resurrection. I'm not Catholic but admire them for this season and what it truly means. Don't condemn something out of ignorance, take the time to be a thoughtful and interested Christian.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Joe

      I don't know what kind of sacrifice people do, being raised Catholic I knew we didn't eat meat on Friday's and were supposed to give something up. Being a Muslim now it seems very little considering during Ramadan we abstain from food and drink from the break of dawn until sunset. Now the reason why give something up? It is a sign of piety and sacrifice. And, it is the only form of worship that is solely done for the pleasure of God. Every other act is something that other people can see you doing, however only you and God know that you are fasting.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • chlotilde

      excellent ref Jon, Matt 6:16 starts out as "when you fast..." So when do you fast, Jon? because it seems rather obvious to me that Jesus expected people to fast or he wouldn't have needed to mention it.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  19. thekeeper03

    the pope has finally come out and expressed how we should be opened minded on aliens....this coming from a holy man, you all ever think that maybe god didnt put us here, just maybe he himself was an alien? im not a relig. person but for the pope to say that after many centuries of fighting with scientist. really people...i have never seen god have you? fasting isnt going to help u c him. just be good and do good to others.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • lucky chucky

      I'm not surprised that the pope is open to aliens existing. Let's face it he actually thinks the bible is fact.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • l

      science and propbabilty actually support the idea that aliens exitst. by calculating the estimation of how many galaxies are in the universe, times how many planets in each, times how many likely have the conditions that support life, times the probability of elements combining and creating life...the result is something like there could be 10 million planets that have life on them, aka aliens

      March 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  20. clemsondave

    I believe that for Lent, rather than simply giving something up, I'd like to give something away to someone who needs it more. I'm not sure what it will be at this point, but I'm praying God will provide the opportunities.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:23 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.