The forty days of lent
Today is Ash Wednesday – marking the start of lent
After the colourful Carnival weekend and the gluttony associated with Mardi Gras, today, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of lent in the Catholic World. Lent takes place exactly during the forty days prior to Good Friday and Easter Sunday festivities.
With the majority of the Maltese being practicing Catholics, lent in Malta is an important period consisting of prayer and penance, in order to prepare oneself for the celebration of the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During this period, the Catholic Church encourages its followers to go to church more often, pray more and attend spiritual exercises. A noteworthy tradition happens on Ash Wednesday, where during mass, the priest sprinkles ashes on the heads of each and every church goer. Throughout lent, parish churches and other religious institutions organize what are known as ‘l-ezercizzi’ - spiritual talks meant to help the community prepare for Good Friday celebrations.
The forty days of lent are also known as a time to give up something that one particularly likes – such as meat, chocolate, smoking or alcohol. While the devout abstain from eating such delicacies particularly on Wednesdays and Fridays, others simply use this period as an excuse to diet and prepare their body for summer.