On Lent

2006-03-04

in Oxford

One unexpected thing about living in England is the amount of attention paid to Lent. Prior to arriving here, the only time I had even heard of the holiday was when I read the partially completed manuscript of a novel my father’s friend wrote, called Halving the Orange. Prior to reading the Wikipedia entry on it just now, I knew nothing whatsoever about what it commemorates. Here, however, large numbers of people are at least aware of the period and the relevant rituals. I suppose it’s a contrast that says as much about western Canada as it does about the southeast of England (according to the UK Apple store, that is where Oxford is located). I wonder if there are any popularly recognized holidays in Canada that are comparatively unknown here.

The various comments made by friends of mine in person and on blogs about giving things up for Lent have the ring, to me, of New Year’s resolutions. There is a similar dynamic of using the opportunity of some ritualized self-restraint to advance some much-postponed personal initiative, such as the reduced consumption of alcohol or unhealthy food. I hope those who are presently involved in such efforts find them effective.


  • Both Google Mail and Blogger seem to be having serious trouble today. As such, access to the blog has been very patchy. Even though it’s hosted by servers not owned or run by Google, it does rely on Google servers to run the navigation bar at the top of the page and the commenting system. Google Talk is also down.
  • Hosting the Blogger status page on a server that goes down every time Blogger does is not the best piece of design on Google’s part.

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous March 4, 2006 at 7:13 pm

On the Blogger outage:

“Major apologies to those of you who were affected. We work hard to maintain Blogger as a trustworthy place to keep your writing, and we really hate to let you down.”

alena March 5, 2006 at 9:24 pm

Our friend Rob DesCotes who is a pastor, describes Lent as a period ot time when an individual can contemplate Christ’s suffering on behalf of humanity, and an opportunity to make personal sacrifices ourselves. This can result in a more acute awareness of the suffring in the world, and that we can change things by doing more for others. Thus it is not very different from the purpose of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Milan March 7, 2006 at 12:15 am

Tony has written a post in response to this.

Milan March 8, 2006 at 8:18 am

I realize that it may seem trivializing to compare Lent to New Year’s resolutions. I meant it insofar as all of the young people I know who are engaged in it are trying to lose weight or drink less. While the motivation is clearly different, the behaviour is similar – if, perhaps, more successful on the mean.

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