Church of England

Lent and Holy Week

Forty days and forty nights
Thou was fasting in the wild.
Forty days and forty nights,
Tempted and yet undefiled.

Lent is a season of forty days beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday. It is a time of reflection, repentance and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. The themes in the Lectionary readings cover:

  • Penitence
  • Baptismal renewal
  • Prayer, fasting, and service
  • Confession of sin rooted in the promise of God that comes through the cross of Christ

Why 40 days?

Because it reflects the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness before he began his ministry (Matthew 4:1-11)

But there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday!

Sundays are counted as ‘little Easters’ so the 6 Sundays in Lent are excluded from the 40 days.

What are Lent’s colours?

The colour for Lent is PURPLE – the colour of repentance and preparation. In Holy Week, the colour changes to RED. In some churches, all the colours and hangings are taken down on Maundy Thursday so there is ‘no colour’ on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.