The Christian Year – Feb. 18 is the first Sunday in the Season of Lent, a season of preparation for the festival of Easter. Lent is a time to work at renewing our relationship with God, and our commitment to living in his ways. Some denominations emphasize the spiritual disciplines of prayer, alms giving (charitable giving), and fasting during Lent.
The season of Lent originated in the early church as a time when new converts were given their final instruction in the Christian faith, in preparation for their baptism at Easter. By the Middle Ages, Lent had evolved into a solemn season of penitence and fasting, inspired by Jesus’ forty days of fasting and being tempted in the wilderness (see Mark 1.12-13, and parallels). The length of Lent was thus set at forty days (not including Sundays, however, since Sunday, being the weekly celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, could not be a day of fasting). Lent therefore always begins on a Wednesday, called Ash Wednesday, 6½ weeks before Easter Sunday.
The final week of Lent is called Holy Week, and during that week, we commemorate the events of Jesus’ “passion” — his suffering and death in Jerusalem.
The symbolic color for Lent is purple, signifying preparation and penitence. The color for Holy Week is red, symbolizing Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross.