Lent 2016
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent for Catholics, but how long is it? Shutterstock

This year, some practicing Catholics were all swept up with Valentine's Day that most overlooked the fact that Ash Wednesday fell on February 14. This day marked the beginning of Lent in 2018, a 40-day observance in the liturgical calendar which is characterized by prayer, fasting and/or abstinence.

This year the beginning of Lent was on Wednesday, February 14 and will end on Thursday, March 29. It runs for about six weeks and leads up to Easter. These are the days that led up to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection when he spent 40 days and nights in the desert. In reality, it is a total of 46 days if the six Sundays are included, but since they are not, it's only 40 because there's no obligation to fast on the holy days.

During this time period, observers give up an action or something that they consider a vice. This will help them bring them closer to God and give them extra time to focus on charitable causes. During this period, abstinence from all animal products including, fish, eggs and milk sourced from animals is practice.

In the Western Catholic Church, fish and dairy product are not included and is distinguished from fasting. This only happens during the day and on Ash Wednesday as well as every Friday.

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