13 February 2024

Kids Alive! World: A look at Lent

Helping children live a healthy and an active lifestyle and care for their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing

A photo of a child eating pancakes

The Kids Alive! team explores the meaning of Shrove Tuesday and Lent.

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It’s Shrove Tuesday today (13 February), which means many of you will be tucking into a stack of delicious pancakes. But do you know why people enjoy pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent. It’s also known as Pancake Day. Traditionally people used to fast during Lent, so on the day before it began they would feast and use up ingredients such as eggs and milk. These are two very important ingredients for making pancakes, which explains why they were often eaten on this special day.

Ready, set, flip!

Eating pancakes isn’t the only tradition that takes place on Shrove Tuesday. There are also famous pancake races where people race down streets tossing a cooked pancake in a frying pan as they run.

The most famous pancake race takes place in Olney, Buckinghamshire. One story for how the race began says that in 1445 a woman from Olney heard the church bell ring while she was making pancakes. She ran to the church for the service, but she was still wearing her apron and holding her frying pan!

A photo of a family making pancakes

What is Lent?

Lent is a really important time for Christians. It’s the six weeks or 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and the last week of Lent is Holy Week. Some churches believe Lent ends on different days, but it’s usually either the evening of Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday) or Easter Saturday. So this year it will end on Thursday 28 March or Saturday 30 March.

Forty days

Lent is 40 days long because of something that happened to Jesus in the Bible. Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray. During this time he was tempted to turn away from God several times by the Devil, but he resisted. You can read the whole story for yourself in the Bible – check out Luke 4:1–13. Or watch The Temptation of Jesus by Saddleback Kids on YouTube.

Give it up

During Lent, Christians remember Jesus fasting in this Bible story and choose things to give up. Some Christians don’t eat lots of different foods, including meat, fish, eggs and other dairy foods. Other people choose to give up something they really enjoy, such as chocolate, or something they think isn’t good for them, such as too much screen time. Here are some other ideas for things you could give up for Lent:

  • Cake
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Your tablet or computer
  • Your favourite toy

Take it up

Although traditionally people give things up for Lent, some people like to take things up instead. These should be things that are good for them or others. It might be things such as reading the Bible every day or doing more nice things for family and friends. Here are some other ideas you might want to do every day in Lent:

  • Tidying your room
  • Reading
  • Praying
  • Exercising

How will you celebrate Lent this year?

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