Lent Fastenzeit


Lent (Carême, Fastenzeit)

***** Location: Europe,
worldwide in Christian communities
***** Season: Early Spring
***** Category: Observance


The season of Lent is a 40-day period of fasting and prayer, which leads up to the great feast of Christ's resurrection, Easter, in the Christian calendar. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Eve, the day after Good Friday, when we remember Jesus resting dead in his tomb and prepare ourselves to celebrate his resurrection.

In Ireland, when I was growing up, Lent involved giving up sugar in one's tea, giving up smoking, giving up drink, giving up chocolate. St Patrick's Day (the Irish national holiday on 17 March) is a day of respite from the Lenten fast. In other countries, the respite (or "refreshment") Sunday is Laetare, the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Nowadays, the churches more and more counsel that Lent should be the occasion for taking on something, rather than giving up something. Take on a hospital visit, take on regular time for prayer, take on being patient with your parents -- or your children!

Several of the pictures on this page are from the Stations of the Cross in the Chapel of Hekima College, Nairobi. May they speak to you as they do to me -- and if it is Lent when you are reading this, have a holy and blessed Lent!

Isabelle Prondzynski


Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya

Father Angelbert M. Vang SJ from Yaounde, Cameroon was a well-known historian, poet, musician and designer. The Jesuit artist, theologian and historian who designed these stations of the Cross was himself murdered a few years after he expressed his own understanding of Christ's Passion in the African idiom he valued.

Vang was asked to design stations for the chapel Hekima College, in Nairobi, Kenya, shortly after the chapel was built in 1984-85 at the very beginning of the school for professional theological studies sponsored by the Jesuits of Africa.


The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days' fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima (French carême, Italian quaresima, Spanish cuaresma), meaning the "forty days", or more literally the "fortieth day". This in turn imitated the Greek name for Lent, tessarakoste (fortieth), a word formed on the analogy of Pentecost (pentekoste), which last was in use for the Jewish festival before New Testament times. This etymology, as we shall see, is of some little importance in explaining the early developments of the Easter fast.


Lent is the period of forty days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Why 40 Days?
40 is a significant number in Jewish-Christian scripture:

In Genesis, the flood which destroyed the earth was brought about by 40 days and nights of rain.
The Hebrews spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the land promised to them by God.
Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai.
Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry.

Most Christians regard Jesus' time in the wilderness as the key event for the duration of Lent.

The colour purple
Purple is the symbolic colour used in some churches throughout Lent, for drapes and altar frontals. Purple is used for two reasons: firstly because it is associated with mourning and so anticipates the pain and suffering of the crucifixion, and secondly because purple is the colour associated with royalty, and celebrates Christ’s resurrection and sovereignty.

East and West
Both the eastern and western churches observe Lent but they count the 40 days differently. The western church excludes Sundays (which is celebrated as the day of Christ's resurrection) whereas the eastern church includes them. The churches also start Lent on different days.

Western churches start Lent on the 7th Wednesday before Easter Day (called Ash Wednesday).

Eastern churches start Lent on the Monday of the 7th week before Easter and end it on the Friday 9 days before Easter. Eastern churches call this period the 'Great Lent'.



Station 9 from Hekima College Chapel, Nairobi


S A C R E D S P A C E is a web site started by the Jesuits of Ireland in 1999 to help the faithful pray in Lent. It was so successful that it has continued ever since, and is now available, all year round, in 20 different languages.



Call to fasting and prayer at the start of Lent

Brothers and sisters in Christ: since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord's passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

At first this season of Lent was observed by those who were preparing for Baptism at Easter and by those who were to be restored to the Church's fellowship from which they had been separated through sin. In course of time the Church came to recognize that, by a careful keeping of these days, all Christians might take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

I invite you, therefore, to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy word.

Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:
Give us grace to discipline ourselves
in obedience to your Spirit;
and, as you know our weakness,
so may we know your power to save;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.




Station 7 from Hekima College Chapel, Nairobi

Worldwide use


kigo for late spring

. shishunsetsu 四旬節 (しじゅんせつ) lent  
..... taisaisetsu 大斎節(たいさいせつ)
rento レント、Lent
shijunsai 四旬祭(しじゅんさい), shijunsai 四旬斎(しじゅんさい)

junansetsu 受難節 (じゅなんせつ) lent. Passionszeit
..... jukusetsu 受苦節(じゅくせつ)

junan 受難の主日 (じゅなんのしゅじつ) Palmsunday, Palmsonntag
shuro no shujitsu 棕櫚の主日(しゅろのしゅじつ)
shuro no seijitsu 棕櫚の聖日(しゅろのせいじつ)
eda no shujitsu 枝の主日(えだのしゅじつ)
seishisai 聖枝祭(せいしさい)
paamusandii paamu sandii パームサンデー palm sunday

. Palm Sunday in Kenya .   

sei kinyoobi 聖金曜日 せいきんようび Good Friday, Karfreitag
sei kinyoo 聖金曜(せいきんよう)
junanbi 受難日(じゅなんび)
guddo furaidii グッドフライデー Good Friday
junan no kinyoobi 受難の金曜日(じゅなんのきんようび)
kunan no kinyoobi苦難の金曜日(くなんのきんようび)
kirisuto junanbi キリスト受難日(きりすとじゅなんび)

seidoyoobi 聖土曜日 (せいどようび) Holy Saturday
Black Saturday, Karsamstag, Ostersamstag
seidoyoo 聖土曜(せいどよう)



a blackbird swoops
over the purple altar---

Catherine Njeri

. Lent 2011 . . . by Catherine

Things found on the way


lenten gift
ciondo full to the brim --
we'll eat tonight!

Ciondo -- sisal baskets carried by women

Isabelle Prondzynski -- Lent 2006 (famine in Kenya)


night before Lent
quick trip to store
last piece of pie

Molly Pufall

cookies in the freezer
wait to be eaten
until Easter

Juliana Helt

40 days
40 nights
. . . restraining himself

Ben Kress

my very best friend
so we can be together

Maureen Coady

© 2004, Randy Brooks , Millikin University

Kukai 4 Favorites -- Love, Mardi Gras & Lent
Global Haiku Tradition -- Haiku Kukai 4, Spring 2004


we are dust
to dust we shall return
Lent's lesson for all

Victor P. Gendrano
Published in World Haiku Review,
Vol. 1, Issue 3, November 2001


Weniger ist Mehr - Less is More


Related words

***** Ash Wednesday

***** Laetare, Mothering Day

***** . Palm Sunday in Kenya .   

after Lent we come to

***** Easter


. Christian Celebrations in Japanese Kigo  




Bill said...

Good Friday
following a pieta
through evening rain

Bill Kenney


anonymous said...

shanikusai kondo wa akuma to odorikeri

Mardi Gras--
this time, she dances
with a devil

Fay Aoyagi, 2001