Yay! I'm sure you're all as excited as I am about Lent! You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be! I've got all my Lent decorations up, the snow is falling, traditional Lent songs are playing on the radio, everybody I know is filled with Lent spirit... this is going to be the best Lent ever.
Anyway, I'm so excited about Lent that I made this: The Official Lent Countdown!
Someone who observes Lent is called a "Lenter". The act of observing Lent is called "Lenting".
Lent does not technically include any Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Saturday. That's why this period, traditionally lasting forty days, actually takes up forty-six on your calendar. So...
...don't count as part of Lent!
Due to Daylight Saving, Lent lasts not 46 days but 45 days 23 hours in many territories.
Lent was invented in 1809 by an Englishman named Wilhelm Lent. It was originally a forty-day diet plan, during which people would forgo certain foods in order to lose weight for Easter. On Sundays these restrictions were temporarily lifted and you could eat anything you liked; that's why Sundays don't count as part of Lent (see above). Wilhelm Lent is also the inventor of lentils!
Lenting is extremely dangerous for periods greater than forty days. There are even some medical records from the 1900s where the doctor wrote "Cause of death: Lent"!
Lenters are particularly at risk if they are exposed to strong magnetic fields or small doses of radiation. That's why in a hospital X-ray or MRI department, you'll often see a discreet sign saying "No Lenting".
"Lent" is also the past tense of the verb "to lend". It's not to be confused with "leant", which is pronounced exactly the same, but is the past tense of the verb "to lean", or "Rent", which is a Broadway musical. "Lent" can also be used as a musical term, meaning "Very slowly"!
The Game Of Lent was a board game first manufactured by Mattel in 1962. Players chose from six pieces of varying shades of grey, each representing a different vice, and took turns rolling dice and answering questions on obscure Christian dogma in an attempt to make it to the end of the forty-space-long board without giving in to temptation. Containing such classic questions as "Who begat Amminadab?" and "Which chapter of Leviticus begins, 'And the Lord spake unto Moses'?", the game was supremely unpopular and taken off the market by 1965. Games still containing all the pieces are now extremely rare and fetch up to USD1000 at auctions.
Miramax Studios acquired the movie rights to Lent in 1990, and in 1993 there were plans to turn Lent into an action/romance called "The Lenter", starring John Candy. Unfortunately Candy's death in 1994 caused the studio to drop the project, though the proposed script can still be found online.