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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. Charlie Sheen

    I will never give up being a Warlock.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Emily

      Giving something up for lent is a sacrifice you are making and should be kept between you and God. Going around telling people what you are giving up makes it not count in a way. It should be a private thing, a time to reflect on your life and choices. Just throwing that out there. God Bless.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Lois

      Lent is a period of penance and fasting from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday.We withdrraw as much as possible form 'the world' in order to direct our attention to the care of our immortal souls. I'm omitting all t.v. except my morning exercize program and the first few minutes of net news to keep up with events in the Middle East and North Africa. I'm taking advantage of this extra time each day to spend more time in prayer, meditaion, spiritual reading, and calling friends and family, esp. those who are down, discouraged, or sick. By doing so, I hope to follow Christ in His great love and charity for suffering mankind. For those who sincerely 'keep' Lent, the spiritual, mental, emotional, sometimes even physical, rewards can be unspeakably wonderful. Hope that helps you better understand.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  2. Brett

    Giving up meat.

    Although Lent isn't about giving something up. Whether you're Catholic or not the message behind Lenten traditions is solid, and people who scoff at it are intolerant and uneducated.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  3. MP

    I'm giving up molesting little boys.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  4. Jeff

    I'm going to give up this cold/flu that I have had for a week.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  5. c

    I was going to give up Facebook , but, after reading some of these comments I think I will give up CNN....permanently. Your readers are the tackiest, cruelist, most mean spirited, ungodly, intolerent, vicious, crude, and ignorant people. You must be so proud to attract this kind of population

    March 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  6. Elsa Figueroa App, Pembroke Pines, Florida

    I am going to get my ashes tonight for the first time in years! I am not sure what I am giving up...I am wondering if I just should do something everyday for my elderly neighbors...give up my time for someone else. I think I can do that.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  7. Guess What Peter..

    I know you forgot, let me remind you that GOD created light. You seem to have plenty of time on your hands. It appears that you have some issues within yourself that need to be addressed. GOD can help you with that!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  8. Bill

    I gave up giving up stuff.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  9. Happy

    Lent is my favorite. I give up quite a bit and sacrifice a lot. I do it to feel the pain god went through. Although people may not see the meaning of Lent just respect those that do believe in it. I am a believer and stick with my sacrifices. Maybe someday people will understand and respect one another when it comes to religion. If you do not believe in Lent then do not try to put other people down because YOU do not BELIEVE in it.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Chris

      Right so giving up a habit or something is such a sacrifice compared to going 40 days without food or drink(not possible, and never happened)

      March 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  10. Connie

    Amen Chad! Amen.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  11. Angie France

    Paganism at it's finest. Doing something that scripture never told you to do. Another man made religious experience that does nothing but encourge people to do someithing for God that He never told you to do and not doing what He did tell you to do.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • bob

      Do you mean how when Jesus said that he does not want people to divorce each other, and yet they still do? In direct violation of His instructions?

      Please explain how when Jesus said NOT to divorce, that he didn't actually MEAN it.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  12. Chad

    For all of you who have shared something positive an insightful regarding Lent, thank you. For all of you who have used this to blog about your contempt for religion, God, or anything else...Please take your misery and sacriledge somewhere else. Honestly, some people are not happy until they declare their ignorance to the world! Deo Benedicat.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Connie

      Amen Chad. I could not have said it better.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Chad: arrogant and presumptuous much?

      In like tone: Take your nasty, hurtful sky fairy myths and shove them.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Myth Buster

      How ironic that you speak of ignorance when you believe in a myth. I am just as skeptical of your god as you are of the Romans gods, the Greeks gods or any gods you are skeptical of and for the same reason you are skeptical of them.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Myth Buster

      Roman's* and Greek's*, sorry for the typos.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  13. Gary

    I'm in my late fifties. When I was a child Lent meant giving up candy for 40 days. Eventually, with technology one could opt for sacrificing television, computer time, video games, etc. In more modern times a Catholic may still choose to give up something but the alternative is to endure a sacrifice of significance for the 40 days as a means of spiritual or personal enlightenment such as to be more tolerant of others or a host of other behaviors that we would like to improve upon. Christ didn't just go into the desert for 40 days to go without and be tempted by the devil.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  14. Connie

    I'm not really "giving up" anything, because if I give up Facebook (oh pleeease.... give me a break we are not all immature co-dependant morons) or some kind of food, who does that really benefit and how does that help the world? I may experience self sacrifice and disapline. Instead, I plan on devoting time each day for quiet prayer and devotion to my Lord. I will pray for all of these idiots on this chain of responses who obviously does not have a clue what it means to be Catholic or Christian..or the symbolism of the Lenten experience. How can you all make judgements on something that you dont even understand? As far as the original quetion that prompted these wild responses: What are you giving up for Lent? It plainly states in the Bible "do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing" we are not supposed to publicly announce to anyone that we are fasting or giving alms...only our Heavenly Father sees.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • David

      You knocked it out of the ballpark on the fact of not boasting or showing sacrifice in our fasting to the Lord.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Damien

      GREAT RESPONSE!!!

      March 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  15. Greg

    This Lent I'm giving up Lent. Yes, I am serious.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  16. efeobi

    4 me i will abstain 4rm dressing

    March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  17. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

    I am giving up on nuclear ambitions. 😀

    March 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  18. N.L.

    I am a devout Catholic, and I am not giving up anything for Lent, but I am going to be better about how I interact with others. Be kinder, you know. I also just want to point out that not all Catholics push their religion on others. I am Catholic, but I firmly believe that people should live and let live. Peace!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Rcmarti

      I guess its easy to say "I'll give this or that up for Lent", but the way I understand it, Lent should also be a time of reconciliation. Instead of giving something up, maybe one should promise to do something for others. For example volunteer during Lent at a senior daycare center or a childrens daycare; volunteer your time to help at a homeless shelter; make amends with someone you've been angry with for sometime; contact a old friend you've haven't talked to for a long time and try to get together more often. I think these suggestions will help give a better understanding of the meaning of what Lent is and will probably improve your relationship with family, friends, and other people you've never met but will get to know in the future.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  19. Unikraken

    I'm giving up my sanity for Lent!

    March 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  20. calinfidel

    I'm not religious, I'm in my late 50s..... giving stuff up is a weekly process for me.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
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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.