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Fasting in Christianity
Lent is the period in the Christian calendar that leads up to Easter. The
traditional purpose of Lent is for the Christian believers to prepare,
through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial, for the annual
commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus (at Easter).
Traditionally Christians are taught to undergo some form of fasting during
Lent as part of their preparation for Easter. Many modern Protestants
consider the observation of Lent to be a choice, rather than an obligation,
they may decide to give a up al luxury or activity for Lent, or they may
instead take on a Lenten discipline such as devotions, volunteering for
charity work and so on. Roman Catholics may also observe Lent in this
way. In the Roman Catholic Church it is also tradition to abstain from meat
from mammals and fowl every Friday for the duration of lent, although
dairy products are still permitted. On Ash Wednesday it is customary to
fast for the day, with no meat, eating only one full meal, and if necessary,
two small meals also. The Orthodox Churches follow a practise of avoiding
all animal products including fish, eggs, fowl and milk sourced from animals
(e.g. goats and cows as opposed to the milk of say beans and coconuts)
for the entire fifty-five days of their Lent.
When observing fasting or abstinence during Lent, regard must be paid to
the fact that Sundays are Feast Days, so there is no fast or abstinence.
The days from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday, excluding
the Sundays, are forty, corresponding to the number of days Christ spent
in the wilderness.