Lent Around the World

When we think of Lent in the United States, we often think of abstaining from meat, giving up something we enjoy, or adding in a spiritual practice. But there’s a huge range and variety of Lenten (and Pre-Lenten) traditions in other cultures! Find out a bit about what the rest of the world enjoys during this Holy season.

Denmark
In Denmark, locals celebrate “Fastelavn” the Sunday before Lent begins. On this day, everyone enjoys eating cream or jam-filled pastries, and children dress up in costumes and beat a barrel filled with candy (similar to a piñata). The two children who successfully break the barrel open are crowned “Cat King” and “Cat Queen.” Believe it or not, this is because the barrel didn’t always hold candy — it used to hold a live cat!

British Isles
Did you know that the British Isles have a long-famous Lenten tradition of eating hot cross buns? The cross marking on the bun symbolizes Jesus’ crucifixion, while the spices in the dough represent His embalming.

Greece
“Kathari Thetera,” or Clean Monday, commences the Lenten season. The Sunday beforehand, people attend a special evening Mass and ask for forgiveness to start Lent with a clean soul. This holiday also signifies the end of a month of carnival celebrations that take place throughout the country leading up to Lent! Clean Monday is a public holiday, and families enjoy the day at the beach or countryside, often flying kites.

Germany
What we know as Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus’ last supper with His Apostles. This day is called Green Thursday (or Grundonnerstag in Germany). There are a variety of speculations as to why this is, but a common one is that since we’ve historically abstained from eating meat, this day is full of green foods and vegetables.

The United Kingdom
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is a day to indulge and feast before the beginning of Lent. But it’s not just about eating pancakes — in Britain, locals enjoy pancake races every year! Members of Parliament and the House of Lords compete in an annual charity race around Victoria Gardens, and each contestant must complete a full lap without dropping the pancake out of their frying pan (although many admit to stuffing extra pancakes in their pockets), all while wearing an apron and white chef’s hat.

St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando private school, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Ash Wednesday

Every year, we gather on Ash Wednesday to receive ashes on our forehead — but do we truly understand the importance of what we’re doing? Learn more about Ash Wednesday and how we prepare for the Easter season and Jesus’s resurrection.

Why Ashes?
Ashes help us remember Genesis 3:19, which tells us that we came from dust, and to dust, we will return. We participate in recognition that we need to repent, turn away from our sin, and be faithful to the Gospel. Ashes serve as a reminder that we are given eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus.

Where Do The Ashes Come From?
The ashes that mark your forehead come from the blessed palm branches that were used for the previous year’s Palm Sunday Mass. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and blessed with prayers that are thousands of years old.

The Original Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday marks Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and everyone gathered to celebrate his arrival by waving palm fronds. This was the beginning of the final seven days of Jesus’s earthly ministry.

Preparation
Ash Wednesday signifies our preparation for Holy Week and the resurrection of Jesus. We come to God and ask for mercy, forgiveness, and compassion, and we repent of our sins. By doing so, in 40 days, we are able to celebrate Easter with the joy that God intended!

Ashes in the Bible
Over 40 passages in the Bible associate ashes with grief and mourning. In the Old Testament, people used ashes as a sign of repentance. Daniel 9 says that Daniel “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes,” and Job 42 shows that Job repented “in dust and ashes.” The Ninevites did the same when Jonah came to them. In Esther 4, Mordecai learns of Haman’s plan to destroy the Jewish people and tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth and ashes, and “went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.”

Don’t Wash Them Away
In the Middle Ages, ashes were not drawn in a cross on the forehead; they were sprinkled across the head. Now, we leave them on our head as a sign of humility. This is a great opportunity to talk to the people in your life about your faith!

St. Charles Borromeo, a private school in Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

How to Prepare for The Advent Season

Christmas season is right around the corner! Our Orlando private school community is excited for the upcoming festivities to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But before then, we want to take time to observe Advent. This is the perfect time to slow down, focus on the meaning of the season, and deepen our relationship with Christ.

Practice Silence
Between holiday parties and social commitments, Christmas is often a loud and busy time. In contrast, Advent is a time to be quiet! Dedicate the beginning of each day to nurturing your relationship with Him by praying for a friend, reading your favorite Bible story, or listening to your favorite worship music on the drive to work.

Advent Wreath
An Advent wreath represents Christ’s eternal love for us. On the wreath, there are four candles: three purple and one pink. There’s also a white candle in the center of the wreath. The purple candles represent our preparation for the Messiah through things such as prayer and fasting, the pink candle represents our joy for His coming, and the white candle — also called the Christ Candle — represents His purity and ability to wash away our sins. The colored candles are lit each Sunday to remind us of the light Christ delivers compared to the darkness of sin.

Give to Charity
God calls us to serve others, and Advent is in the heart of the giving season! There’s a surplus of giving opportunities around the holidays, so consider donating your time to serving your community. If free time is scarce during the busy holiday season, you and your family could also set money aside to give toward the charity of your choosing.

Daily Devotional
Sometimes what we need is a small dose of nourishment through a devotional. This can be done on your own, or you can gather friends and family to complete the devotionals together. You may be surprised how many people would love some company while digging into the Bible! You can hold each other accountable, help answer each other’s questions, and encourage one another when you become frustrated or confused.

Nightly Bible Time
Children greatly benefit from observing the Advent season! If you don’t already have nightly Bible time, Advent is an excellent opportunity to spend evenings talking about the Bible together. As Christmas gets closer, spend your time reading about the birth of Jesus, and talk to your children about what we can learn from Advent.

As an Orlando private school, our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.