Every year, millions of Christians around the world observe Lent, the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. From chocolate to social media, those who observe the Lenten season give up their favorite luxuries in the interest of spiritual discipline.
Traditionally, Lent lasts for roughly 40 days to mirror the length of time Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness, resisting the temptation of Satan.
Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6, is observed by Catholics and evangelical Christians across denominations. But the season isn’t just observed by the faithful: 1 in 4 Americans, religious and nonreligious alike, participate in Lent, according to LifeWay Research.
Here are five interesting facts about Lent, from the origin of the season’s official color to the meaning of ashes.