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What People Say They Are Giving Up for Lent – 2015

Lent 4Lent, the period of 40 days that precedes the celebration of Easter, has its origin in the early days of the Church. Converts seeking to become Christian, who at that time were mostly adults, spent several years in study and preparation.  Under the threat of Roman persecution, becoming a Christian was serious business, so their process of preparation was intensive!

Then they went through a final period of “purification and enlightenment” for the 40 days before their baptism at Easter. The rest of the Church began to observe the season of Lent in solidarity with these newest Christians.  It became an opportunity for all Christians to recall and renew the commitment of their baptism.

Today we know Lent as a season of conversion: we acknowledge the ways we have turned away from God in our lives and we focus on turning our hearts and minds back toward God.  Hence the three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

These observances help us turn away from whatever has distracted or derailed us and to turn back to God. Giving up something for Lent is ultimately a form of fasting. We can deprive ourselves of some small pleasure or indulgence and offer that sacrifice up to God.  Or we might “give up” a bad habit such as smoking as a way of positively turning our life back towards what God wants for us.

Lent - What to Give Up - 2015Nearly one in five Americans observed Lent last year, and more than half a million tweeted about their fast.

Each year, Stephen Smith of OpenBible.info tracks hundreds of thousands of Lenten tweets during the week of Ash Wednesday.  Here is Smith’s running total of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2015:

Rank Word Tweets
1 chocolate 2,356
2 twitter 2,032
3 social networking 1,803
4 school 1,498
5 alcohol 1,462
6 swearing 952
7 sweets 929
8 soda 902
9 fast food 810
10 coffee 673
11 lent 570
12 meat 528
13 bread 500
14 chips 474
15 junk food 473
16 sex 454
17 you 450
18 homework 406
19 facebook 402
20 pizza 396
21 college 260
22 boys 257
23 work 253
24 religion 245
25 giving up things 243
26 sugar 238
27 netflix 238
28 candy 237
29 beer 230
30 starbucks 221
31 instagram 221
32 cookies 206
33 wine 192
34 smoking 185
35 ice cream 178
36 chipotle 168
37 snapchat 168
38 food 163
39 cheese 154
40 life 152
41 stuff 152
42 my phone 150
43 carbs 146
44 mcdonalds 142
45 pancakes 140
46 snow 135
47 shopping 135
48 takeout 135
49 me 130
50 catholicism 126
51 rice 124
52 fizzy drinks 115
53 marijuana 113
54 winter 111
55 coke 106
56 cake 105
57 desserts 105
58 fried food 105
59 feelings 103
60 booze 100
61 procrastination 100
62 diet coke 98
63 hope 97
64 red meat 97
65 caffeine 95
66 people 92
67 makeup 90
68 complaining 89
69 virginity 89
70 french fries 88
71 lectures 85
72 a levels 84
73 selfies 83
74 negativity 82
75 tea 76
76 masturbation 74
77 eating out 71
78 peanut butter 70
79 breathing 68
80 sobriety 64
81 nothing 62
82 dairy 60
83 men 60
84 porn 58
85 gluten 58
86 dunkin donuts 57
87 chick fil a 57
88 sleep 56
89 juice 56
90 pasta 54
91 classes 53
92 sweet tea 52
93 christianity 52
94 sarcasm 52
95 chicken 49
96 bad tenants 48
97 online shopping 48
98 liquor 47
99 new years resolutions 46
100 hot cheetos 46

LentAn experience of want, however temporary, can help us to appreciate the true abundance in our lives.  And a small positive change can have a big impact that lasts beyond the 40 days of Lent.

Take the time now to think about what you might give up this year. 

  • Is it something you enjoy that you want to sacrifice for a while, like your daily latte? 
  • Or is it a bad habit you want to conquer, like running in late to meetings with co-workers? 
  • Or perhaps you want to turn your cell phone off for a few hours each day and not let it distract you from the loved ones you are with in real time? 

Find something that works for you, and whatever it is, may it help you to turn towards God in this holy season of Lent.

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