Once we've had Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, and we've all had our fill of sugary, lemony goodness (chocolate spread, jam, maple syrup - delete as appropriate) what's next? What's the next big event we can all look forward to on the calendar? Erm, well that would be Easter and all that yummy, chocolately fun of course!
Up to this point, some of us may have been attempting to undergo a period of abstinence. You might hear some of your friends or colleagues saying, "I've given up sweets/alcohol etc for Lent". But what does this actually mean and why are they really doing it anyway?
Sometimes people use Lent as a timely opportunity to go on a diet or cut down on their drinking, which is fine but really you could decide to do that at any time of year. Maybe it seems fitting to give up chocolate or sweet things in preparation for the massive choc fest that Easter has now become.
But is it really such a big deal to give up treats when we know we have such a ready supply of them all the time? Back in the day, when food was scarce and luxuries even more so, it made sense that people gave up sugar and fats during Lent because food was pretty much their only source of pleasure. But it isn't much of a sacrifice to make these days when we have so many other kinds of fun and ways to treat ourselves (cue outrage from all chocoholics).
We’re not sure we really agree with self-denial anyway. Just like New Year's resolutions, it all seems a bit counter-productive and negative. Okay, so traditionally Lent was a lean period that enabled Christians to empathise with the fast that Jesus undertook for forty days and forty nights in the desert. And a lot of people from other religions extol the virtues of fasting as a way of focusing the mind and opening up the channels for spirituality.
For those that observe Lent in this way, and for those who just want to exercise their will power, we salute you and wish you luck. But there is something else you could try during Lent; something a bit more positive and proactive. You could try giving up something that really matters, something that helps other people, such as your time.
How about volunteering your time in order to raise money for charity? It could be cleaning cars or babysitting – anything that raises cash. It could be a sponsored walk (wouldn't an Easter egg taste sweeter after that?) or it could be donating your skills to help others. Or you could even donate the money you’ve saved on the things you’ve gone without during Lent to a charity. There are lots of worthy causes but you know our favourite is Save the Children.
P.S. Don’t worry, we’ve got another post lined up for you soon with all our favourite chocolate Easter treats. Well, one good turn deserves another!
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