Today is the first day of Lent, otherwise known as The Day after Pancake Day. Today is the day which my friends and other contacts fill their Twitter and Facebook feeds with ‘I’m giving up…(insert desirable food item)’ or ‘Day 1 without cigarettes, only 39 to go!’, and today is the day in which I give up nothing and act no different to how I did yesterday.
Why is this? The majority of people who give something up for Lent have no religious affiliations with this period in the calendar, and are simply taking a set 40 days to mark something they wouldn’t otherwise do.
Do you really want to give up chocolate? Do you, really? You might think you want to answer ‘yes’, but would that answer actually be answering a question along the lines of ‘do you want to lose weight’ or ‘do you want to be healthier’?
If so, then go on a steady, paced and sensible diet during which you are not likely to cave because you haven’t allowed yourself a single gram of sweet food for weeks, and do it whenever you want to during the year. Taking part in Lent is just treating Ash Wednesday as another 1st January, a time to start afresh, except usually with a focus on health (because who gives up vegetables?).
If you’re not unhappy with your weight or health, and here is my main point, then why are you giving up something you like? There is absolutely no sane reason for this unless you are a devout Christian, and even some of those don’t necessarily bother taking part in the festival of deprivation. Seriously, please question why you are doing this and if there is any logical point to it.
Chocolate, cigarettes, alcohol: whatever your weakness is, surely you consume these things because you enjoy them, and possibly even because they help you in your endeavours. I know some people who couldn’t do their jobs without knowing there will be a glass of wine waiting for them at home, and I have regularly used treats like chocolate as markers for reaching writing goals. Give these things up and other parts of your life could suffer.
Either go on a diet, quit smoking gradually, cut down from four to three glasses of wine at the weekend, or if you really must partake in the least festive festival there is, ask yourself whether you’d be doing so if it were part of a religion other than your country’s official one.