Lent starts Wednesday, March 2 this year, and with it a mix of different traditions that lead up all the way to Easter. The classic Christian holiday has been going on for longer than you might expect and has evolved over the literal thousands of years since its inception.
Not sure what you should be giving up this year for the 40 days of Lent? Curious what you can cook or order up during those meatless Fridays? Wondering where this holiday even originated from? We’ve got answers to your burning questions! Check out what most Americans are abstaining from this Lent, as well as where you can pick up some meatless cuisine and learn more about this storied holiday.
What most Americans give up for Lent
Not sure what to give up for Lent this year? Your fellow Americans may just have the answer.
A poll run by YouGovAmerica, which asked users to check off all vices they usually give up for Lent, found that almost a fourth of all Americans who participate give up sweets or dessert. Another 20% chose to give up soda and / or fast food and dining out. 17% voted to abstain from alcohol.
Gossiping was another big choice, with 16% of the votes, followed by non-essential shopping and social media. Bottoming out the list was watching TV / streaming at 11%, caffeine at 9%, and video games at 8%.
Comparatively, a second poll was run asking what votes thought the hardest vice to give up would be. One fourth of all votes chose watching TV, followed by caffeine with 17% of the votes and desserts or sweets with 11%.
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There’s even a breakdown of the latter poll by age. It shows how, for example, almost a fifth of all votes under 30 found giving up social media to be the hardest thing to drop, compared to just 8% with votes 30-64. Even so, watching TV and streaming took the top slot across all ages, with a third of voting 65 and older saying it’d be the most challenging to give up for Lent.
What to cook or order up for Fridays
Not sure what to have for those meatless Friday dinners? There are a lot more choices than you’d think.
Check out Taste of Home’s list of 98 Super Satisfying Dinners for Lent, for starters. You can cook up dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo, Ravioli in Squash Sauce, Baked Halibut, and a whole lot more. They’ve even got links to all the different recipes without that several-chaptered story about the origin of each dish!
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There’s more than a few places you can order out as well in your area. Pizza is often a popular choice: You’ve got Asylum Street Pizza and Brick & Basil in Norwich, Mr. Z’s in Plainfield, 4G’s Restaurant and Pizza in Dayville, Green Onion in Lisbon, Pleasant Pizza in Willimantic, and Surrell’s Pizza in Griswold.
Pick up some fresh, homemade pasta at Paul’s Pasta in Groton, while you’re at it, or swing by Louie’s Seafood Market in Colchester for some fresh fish. You can give veganism a try at Right Path Organic Café in New London, with a mix of different sandwiches, bowls, and salads to choose from.
Looking at Lent’s origins and some surprising facts
Curious about where Lent came from? It was started in 325AD by the First Council of Nicaea, a council of Christian bishops convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine I. The 40-day event is significant to Christians for a few reasons: Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, Noah spent 40 days on his Ark, and Moses traveled through the wilderness for 40 days before reaching the Promised Land.
There’s a lot more to the holiday, however, as you can find on The Fact Site’s website:
- Not eating meat on Fridays came from the tradition of abstaining from consuming any warm-blooded animal during the whole 40 days of Lent. It’s been relaxed in more recent times.
- Given Sundays aren’t included in the 40 day calculation, Lent actually lasts for 46 days.
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- Many Christians will abstain from or give up sex during Lent
- Lent comes from the Middle English word “lente,” which simply means springtime.
- New Orleans and its Mardi Gras celebration comes from Lent: On the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, where Christians are meant to fast, people party in the streets and chow down on all sorts of different food in a “Fat Tuesday” celebration.