Lent can be a great way to kick start a new healthy lifestyle or raise awareness of a particular cause, but does it still have a place in the 21st Century?
As Bishop of Gloucester Michael Perham prepares to join thousands in a fast from dusk til dawn for the national End Hunger Fast campaign, others will have more cash in their pockets by giving up a certain vice for 40 days.
Bishop Michael said: “Fasting is an ancient spiritual discipline that brings us closer to God.
“I would encourage others to fast in the most appropriate way this Lent. Not only is it a way of raising awareness of hunger in this country, but also a chance to help those in need, by either giving them the food you would have eaten or the money you would have spent on food during the fast.”
Smokers choosing to kick the habit for Lent, the six week period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day, will also feel better off.
Individuals could save £18,424.98 over their working life by abstaining from cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate bars and coffee shop coffee during Lent. Average consumption of alcohol over Lent will add 4,704 calories to your intake, which would take around 673 minutes of running to burn off.
Gloucester’s town crier Alan Myatt said: “Lent is still relevant today as it can a good opportunity for people to take stock of their lives.
“For those of faith it helps focus the mind and for others it is a chance to clean themselves up a bit and do a bit of detox.”
Susan Field, 48, Montpellier, Cheltenham, said: “When my son was at primary school, we probably had more of a connection to Lent because it was a Church of England school. If I was giving something up I would probably give up a luxury – maybe sweets and chocolate, but not a staple food.”
Jessica Stoddart, 24, St. Mark’s, Cheltenham, said: “Lent doesn’t really mean anything to me. I always say I’ll give something up, like chocolate, but I never do.”
Joan Mackenzie, 69, Benhall, Cheltenham said: “I was brought up in the Church of England, but I’m not really a churchgoer.
“I don’t give up anything up for Lent. I’d probably give up chocolate, which is one of my weaknesses.”