Lenten Season 2018: When Does it Begin and What is Its Relevance?

REUTERS/Kai PfaffenbachMembers of the Italian community take part in a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in Bensheim, southwest of Frankfurt, Germany, April 14, 2017.

The Christian holy season of Lent is fast approaching as it is set to officially begin this February 14, Valentine's Day.

The Season of Lent, also known as the Lenten Season or simply Lent, represents the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness as he prayed and fasted after he was baptized. For many Christians, especially the Catholics, it is a period of rejuvenating one's faith and improving their relationship with the Lord.

While Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, the Lenten Season actually lasts for 46 days. However, as the Sundays included within the period are not counted, the holy season is only observed for 40 days.

Catholics who are 14 years old and older are instructed not to eat meat except for fish on all Fridays within the season as a form of sacrifice. While not everybody observes this, some even go the extent of depriving themselves of anything that brings pleasure, including smoking and drinking alcohol.

Unlike Christmas, which is consistently celebrated every December 25, the date of the Lenten Season changes every year. This is because it is based on the date of Easter, which, on the other hand, is based on the first full moon of Spring. After all, Biblical records show that Jesus was crucified on the day the Passover, and Passover then was observed during the first full moon of the vernal equinox, or the first day of Spring. Hence, Easter is always celebrated around that time of the year.

The Lenten Season always officially begins with Ash Wednesday, which happens to fall on Valentine's Day this year. During this day, Catholic faithfuls attend a mass and eventually have their foreheads marked with the sign of a cross made of ash that has been mixed with Holy Water of olive oil. Apart from the cross representing the death and sacrifices of Christ, this tradition is also lifted from the Bible that says, "For you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19)."

Other than Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, which is the day when Jesus resurrected from the dead, Catholic Christians also observe three other important days within the Lenten Season. On March 25, faithfuls will be observing the Palm Sunday, which represents Jesus' entry to Jerusalem, where the people lined the ground with palm leaves for the donkey He was riding to walk on.

On March 29, Christians observe Maundy Thursday, which, remembers the last supper Jesus had before he was arrested.

The crucifixion and death of Jesus, on the other hand, is observed on a Good Friday, which falls on March 30 this year.

The Lenten Season ends on Easter Sunday, which falls on April 1 this year.