Although it is predominately viewed as a Catholic holiday, Lent is celebrated in a number of ways by different people.
Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Easter that is observed by many Christian sects as a time for fasting and spiritual exercise. In addition to abstaining from red meat and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, many choose to give up a particular food, action or item for the entirety of Lent.
When asked about their involvement with Lent, students gave a variety of answers as to how and why they celebrated the holiday.
As a Lutheran, sophomore Elona Greenhoff is not required to practice Lent, but chooses to do so out of her own accord.
“It’s a remembrance of how Jesus died on the cross for our sins,” Greenhoff said, “and that I should be able to understand and give up some small thing to understand what He went through, which was a huge thing.”
In regards to what she normally does for Lent, Greenhoff said, “I usually give up something, whether it’s something small or something that I should be working on as is. This time I will be giving up swearing for Lent.”
Senior Madison Smith said that although she is no longer a member of the Catholic church, she still finds the time each year to take part in Lent in her own way.
“I don’t celebrate it as strictly as I used to,” Smith said. “I grew up catholic, and I went to school in a Catholic school for ten years…[but] now that I’ve been out of the church for a while, I don’t eat meat on Fridays. On Ash Wednesday, I go to the mass, and I have the ashes put on my forehead, and I fast that day.”
In addition to these practices, Smith gives up drinking anything but water and also tries to give back to the community during Lent.
“Instead of giving up or sacrificing something, you try to go out of your way to do something,” Smith said. “I’m going to take the $5 I’m going to spend on fast food or eating out and donate it to a good cause or a charity. I try to monitor how I’m treating people, and I try to volunteer more.”
When asked about her participation as a United Methodist for Lent, senior Kessie Rose said that although she personally does not give up meat, she still follows the practice of choosing something to fast from during Lent.
“Typically for Lent, I try to give up some food that I’ve been eating and is probably not good for me, and I try to give up something that is taking up my time,” Rose said. “I’m giving up all fast food. I haven’t decided what I’m giving up time-wise, but I’ve been leaning towards Netflix.”
Rose said that the absence of whatever one has given up for Lent allows a person the chance to replace that time spent otherwise with God and focusing on self-growth.
“It’s just really important to me,” Rose said. “Jesus made a huge sacrifice in going out to the wilderness for 40 days. If he can do that for me, then the least I can do is give up something that is not going to kill me.”
As a person who grew up in a Catholic family, senior and president of the Catholic Student Organization Samuel Gracida has been participating in Lent his whole life.
“It’s [a part of] my faith, and it’s what I believe in,” Gracida said when asked why he practices Lent. “In a sense, people think Christmas is the most important Christian celebration, but really, it’s the Passover and Easter. I am always striving to be better, to grow in my faith, to grow in who I am as a person, as a human, as a believer. Lent is a time that is an opportunity to do that to a higher degree.”
This year, Gracida will be giving up snacks between meals for Lent and will be working with his organization to aid St. Catharine Church with a food drive.