Sunday, March 09, 2014


Even at my more advanced age and years (and years) in the church I didn't have an answer to the question:

Where does the word "Lent" come from? What is it's meaning?
Well, I knew that in some languages like Spanish and other Romance languages, the name of the season simply comes from the word for forty out of Latin:
Some languages use a word or phrase that refer to "fasting," a common element of the season. In other Christian holy seasons and days, our English is sometimes impacted by pagan history, i.e. Easter which comes from a fertility Goddess:
Ä’astre, the name of a goddess associated with spring.
Well, it seems that when sermons started being given in the vernacular (i.e. Reformation and after), they had to come up with a word for the season other than simply calling it "Forty Days" the literal Latin translation. Never ones to spend a lot of time on theological depth, they simply turned to the vernacular world.

How then can we name this season? Why make it difficult, let's simply take the word for spring, which was, in German, Lenz, and lente in Dutch. Not to put too much extra baggage on those words, they simply meant "long" because in spring the days get longer. Common German today, of course, has other words for spring, but lenz is a poetic word for spring.

That's a long answer to a short question, but I am always intrigued by the way language develops and grows. It is often very simple, down-to-earth and readily explainable- once you do the digging.

So, Happy Spring, as this is the first Sunday of Lent.

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