A true story related to my by a grandmother.
Little Anneka (3) asked her mum, why did they had pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and what Lent was. Mum, although not religious herself, explained as best she could about using up certain food ingredients before the start of Lent to make the pancakes, and about Jesus fasting in the desert for 40 days.
After it was explained, Anneka exclaimed that Jesus could have half her pancake and that she would make him sandwiches too, so he wouldn’t get hungry.
It took the kindness of a child to remind me of this simple truth.
Lent, the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, has traditionally been a time for fasting and giving something up, until we reach Easter Sunday. This has, I suspect, largely been forgotten now, outside of the people of a religious faith. Tradition has it that lent is for 40 days, matching the period Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his ministry.
Fasting during the Lenten period did not mean starving, sufficient food was consumed to sustain the body and maintain strength, but it did mean eating less and cutting out certain foodstuff altogether. Eggs and dairy products were frequently cut out, hence using them up on Shrove Tuesday, when pancakes are traditionally eaten.
Whilst fasting is rare now, in faith groups and communities giving something up for Lent is not unusual. It seems to me anecdotally at least, that a couple of the more popular things to give up are chocolate or alcohol. Does giving up something really benefit anyone other than the person giving it up, depending on what is actually given up? At best it might mean that a huge multinational company like, say, Cadbury’s profit is smaller by a couple of Pounds, Euros, Dollars or whatever your currency happens to be. A better idea than giving up might be giving.
It does not need to be a lot of money that you give, to a charity for example, or even money at all. It might be some old but usable clothes you no longer use, but your local charity shop can. Sometimes the most valuable thing you can give is simply a bit of time to help someone, or just to visit a friend or family member you might not have seen in a long time.
Instead of just giving something up for Lent,
think about what you might be able to give.