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Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan.Lent celebrants carrying out a street procession during Holy Week, in Granada, Nicaragua.Until this rite was revised by Saint Charles Borromeo the liturgy of the First Sunday of Lent was festive, celebrated in white vestments with chanting of the Gloria in Excelsis and Alleluia, in line with the recommendation in Matthew , "When you fast, do not look gloomy".In the Byzantine Rite, i.e., the Eastern Orthodox Great Lent (Greek: Μεγάλη Τεσσαρακοστή or Μεγάλη Νηστεία, meaning "Great 40 Days" and "Great Fast" respectively) is the most important fasting season in the church year.The fast was initially undertaken by the catechumens to prepare them for the reception of this sacrament.Later, the period of fasting from Good Friday until Easter Day was extended to six days, to correspond with the six weeks of training necessary to give the final instruction to those converts who were to be baptized.The violet color is often associated with penance and detachment.Similar Christian penitential practice is seen in other Catholic countries, sometimes associated with mortification of the flesh. A dated term in German, lenz (Old High German lenzo), is also related.
Great Lent is broken only after the Paschal (Easter) Divine Liturgy.
The day for beginning the Lenten fast is the following Monday, the first weekday in Lent.
The special Ash Wednesday fast is transferred to the first Friday of the Ambrosian Lent.
and may possibly have reference to the lengthening of the days as characterizing the season of spring'.
The origin of the -en element is less clear: it may simply be a suffix, or lencten may originally have been a compound of *laŋgo- 'long' and an otherwise little attested word *-tino, meaning 'day'.