Lent is a time of great importance in Latin American countries, symbolizing reflection and spiritual preparation for Easter. But did you know that the forty day period is based on several biblical references,such as the biblical flood and the trial of Jesus in the desert?
Lent in Latin American countries: Traditions, symbolism and health benefits.
Additionally, Ash Wednesday represents spiritual renewal and food abstinence is suggested, which doubles the consumption of fish and seafood. Lent also offers surprising health benefits, such as a decrease in cholesterol and obesity in North America. But Lent is not only about reflection and penance, some of the biggest carnivals in the world take place during these 40 days.
Lent officially begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes just before Maundy Thursday evening. Its duration of forty days is based on several biblical references and symbolizes the trial Jesus faced by living for 40 days in the desert before his public mission.
The 40 days of Lent symbolize the biblical flood, 40 years that lasted the march of the people of Israel through the desert and 400 years that the Jews were in Egypt. The practice of fasting and abstinence during Lent dates back to the 4th century.
Ash Wednesday: Symbolism of Renewal
Ash Wednesday, besides marking the beginning of Lent, represents for believers a moment to leave behind the mistakes of the past and seek spiritual renewal. On that day, the ashes placed on the foreheads of the faithful symbolize a sign of humility, recalling their earthly nature.
Although the Catholic Church does not require food abstinence on these days, it is suggested to the faithful to have only one meal a day on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. During Lent, fish and seafood consumption doubles, due to the tradition of abstaining from eating red meat on Fridays. The demand for seafood products triples on Fridays during this period.
In the Middle Ages, food during Lent was limited to a soup of oil, bread and water, nothing else. Today, this time of the year is an opportunity to taste typical and traditional dishes that are part of the culinary culture of each country.
The surprising health benefits of Lent in North America
Lent and health go hand in hand!
The 40 days of Lent can have significant health benefits for people in North America, according to some scientific studies. Decreases in cholesterol levels have been reported, as well as a decrease in obesity rates.
Did you know that the days of Lent are not exactly 40?
If we count the days from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter Sunday and subtract the six Sundays, we get the exact number. And although Lent is associated with reflection and penance, we cannot ignore that some of the biggest carnivals in the world take place during these 40 days.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is just one example. Lent has more surprises than you thought!