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. socrealizmcomua


    March 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  2. Dan Black

    Bible says in Mark 7:15 and Matthew 15:11, that it is the things that come OUT of a man that defiles us, not that which we consume. I get fasting, however. If something is "bad" during lent, it should be given up the entire year, yes? If something is not "bad", we should spend our energy spreading the Gospel, not depriving ourselves of the things he wants us to enjoy for His glory. Can I get an AMEN?

    March 9, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  3. Kiler

    I am giving up religion for Lent. Yesterday I celebrated by being exceedingly pious.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  4. Connie

    Work near so many awesome stores...!

    Going to give up shopping... We'll see how that goes.

    It's funny how once you decide to 'give up' something (even if it's for a short period of time) you suddenly feel like you can't live without it. God willing I may be able to put this luxury on hold...until Easter?

    March 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  5. Good Grief

    Seriously? Why so much hate? If you don't believe in God, why are you even "wasting" your time and reading this blog? Move on and get a life! You don't see me posting idiotic comments on your athiest boards. Live and let live...damn.

    March 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  6. lancon454

    I am giving up being Catholic for lent! Oh I forgot, I stopped being Catholic years ago, so no I am not giving up anything! I will say that many people on this post think that if you are a christian than you have to give something up for lint, but it is only if you are Catholic silly!

    March 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Lightning387

      Actually, a lot of other denominations give up something as well. (Of course, this doesn't include the ones that don't have a church year or recognize Lent.) I was raised Lutheran and we always gave up something.

      Now as far as the whole 'no meat on Fridays' thing, I'm pretty sure that's just Catholics.

      March 9, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  7. Uncle Beasley

    When I was younger, my Mom would ask what I was giving up for Lent. "Chewing gum" was my standard reply. And, true to my word, I didn't chew gum the whole time. But, I'm not sure she ever caught on to the fact that I didn't chew gum the rest of the year, either.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • blondegeisha

      love it

      March 9, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  8. That's it

    Giving up Republicans...

    March 9, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  9. Nancy

    I'm giving up reading the comments section on CNN's religious articles.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  10. Janelle

    This time of the year is very sacred for me. I don't give up anything, instead I reflect on what I need to add to my life to grow closer to God. So I have made the commitment to return to daily Mass, pray the Divine Office, and take a weekly course from my parish during Lent. Some might say I am sacrificing precious time, but I know it the growth in my prayer life will be very fruitful, so it won't be like a sacrifice but something very joyful. God bless everyone here, even those who claim Jesus doesn't exist or don't believe. Because Truth exists, even if one says He doesn't.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • John

      Very profound... Life is revelation; to deny faith is to blind you to the possibilities of understanding the sublime God

      March 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  11. joyceelaine

    I'm giving up pop for lent. It's become a habit that keeps me from sleeping and my grades are starting to be affected.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm |


    March 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • YouShouldKnow,right?


      March 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  13. Concerned Citizen

    Wow, so much hate in these "soundoff" section. Is this what we've come to as a society? Bickering back and forth about the reason for LENT...taunting between both believers and non-believers. So many "intelligent beings" postings for and against...

    Honestly if you do not believe in God or follow the traditions of Lent, why are you reading this article? Then posting gibberish about how you don't believe?

    To all those believers, why try to combat the nonbelievers via a website? You know better than that.

    The extent to which people will go to today to get the "final word".

    March 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Meh. more bickering and taunting...

      March 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Ereje

      It is fun to see how people waste time with religion.:)

      March 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • John

      It's sad to see how some people waste their lives without religion.....

      March 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • mereduke

      @Concerned Citizen: AGREED!

      March 9, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  14. Rachel

    I'm giving up speech/speaking from 6:00 – 8:00 every evening. This is to both make me a better listener and rethink about what my words are truly communicating.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Blasphemer

      I'm sure your husband/boyfriend will be much happier during those two hours of the day.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • mereduke

      @Blasphemer: why joke? This person is commenting on the article and is serious about Lent. There is no room for your wise cracks. Go troll somewhere else.

      March 9, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  15. Cimber LeAnne J.

    Every question you have ever had can be answered here. Good Luck All

    March 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  16. oee

    I am giving up Jesus. Now, isn't that a sacrifice?

    March 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • are you trying to be


      March 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Blasphemer

      Now that's funny

      March 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • John

      Too bad for you.....

      March 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  17. Let's B Real

    I was raised in the Catholic church and will always be Catholic. This is something that i have believed for many years. It is simple... It does us no good to "give up" something and continue to behave badly toward each other. My goal every year is to try to have a greater awareness of the way I treat my fellow humans.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Let's B More Real

      I too was raised Catholic in a Catholic town. Maybe that is why I gave up Catholic, for longer than just Lent. 🙂

      March 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • thoughtful

      amen. I'm for positive actions rather than giving something up. Sometimes those actions even carry on through the year.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  18. Luis Wu

    If anybody wants to give up some money...I could use some. 🙂

    March 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Jesusfreakazoid

      For some reason God always needs more of our money.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  19. Kirb

    As someone who grew up in a Texas Baptist family and church, fasting during Lent was not on our list. I've never fully understood the advantages of Lent by those who observe that time.
    I do feel more like this earlier comment by Luis Wu: "Actually, we want Christians to stop pushing their fairy tales on everyone else in the form of legislation. Stop trying to get school prayer in schools, stop pushing anti-abortion legislation, stop gay bashing and your bigotry against other religions. You would be angry too if every time you turned around, someone was trying to force their moral values on you."

    March 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  20. John

    A CNN blog is not going to make believers out of athiest and isnt going to make non-believers out of Christians, so can everyone please just act like adults, respect other peoples' beliefs and chill? The arguments posed by both sides make all of you sound like 7th graders taking their first debate class – it's a pain to read, the arguments are all shoddy at best, and the only thing you seem to be accomplishing is being louder than everyone else by saying condescending and belittling things about the side with which you don't agree.

    With that said, I gave up alcohol for lent (which is going to be very, very difficult)

    March 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      There's a cure for that. Just go away and don't read the comments.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Hooser Catholic

      explains Lent

      March 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Beth

      Another view of what Lent means: http://whitestonejournal.com/lent1.html
      The practice of Lent can benefit any Christian, not just Catholics who want to create a closer, personal relationship with God.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • descent

      yup that's it, pray to the defined orfice – is that like a priet's intercesseding a$$ thingy?

      March 9, 2011 at 6:35 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.