Lenten season brings out the best in students

Marissa Montoya

Nature is starting to show signs of spring around the Sacramento State campus as trees and flowers begin to bloom. Another indicator is noticing a friend, who usually eats fast food, has converted to bringing a sack lunch to school.

One might be tempted to think this usually ravenous friend is skipping the fast food in order to get in shape for summer weather, but another explanation could be they are observing the religious season called Lent.

“Lent gets its name from an Anglo-Saxon word that means both ‘springtime’ and ‘March,’ the month in which most of Lent falls,” said Brad Nystrom, professor and chair of humanities and religious studies at Sac State.

Lent is the period before Easter when Catholics and some Christians fast or sacrifice their own wants in order to prepare for Easter- which in the Christian faith, represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion and death.

Nystrom said some of the earliest mentions of Lent were in the writings of Irenaeus, a second-century bishop in Lyon, France. Irenaeus defined Lent as a time when Christians fasted in order to emulate the suffering of Christ.

The item given up can be something like chocolate, alcohol, or even something intangible such as negative thoughts or judgments against others. Instead of giving up something, some people choose to contribute to a good cause through volunteer work or bettering their daily routine in some way such as meditation or exercise.

“Lent is an important time for Orthodox and some Protestant Christians, as well as for Catholics, though each group understands and observes in its own way,” said Nystrom.

As important as this time is for Christians, some students claimed no religious affiliation but know what Lent is. A few that claimed an affiliation said they did not give up anything this year, but they know someone who did.

“I am Christian, but I do not usually give anything up,” said Olivia Regan, communications major. “I have a friend who decided she was going to cleanse her mind and body by waking up early to exercise a few days per week.”

Aly Homen, a dance major, says she knows friends who observe lent but she herself does not.

Although the celebration of Lent and Easter is traditionally regarded as a Christian observance, there is information that points to Pagan origins celebrating the spring equinox and the rebirth of nature that comes along with springtime.

Commercialism has increased the popularity of Easter symbolism, such as the Easter Bunny and colorful eggs, amongst people with secular beliefs.

Regardless of one’s religious affiliation, it is refreshing to enter the spring season with renewed vitality and energy. Spring cleaning is common around households and businesses and could also be effective for the mind and body. If nothing else, spring cleaning one’s daily habits and thoughts can be beneficial for a better beach body and a relaxed, summer state of mind.