Different Lenten traditions around the world

File photo
File photo

As the Lenten Season approaches, people around the world prepare to observe this period of reflection and spiritual renewal in their own unique ways. From preparing the delicious “binignit” in the Philippines, to the solemn fasting traditions in Ethiopia, Lent is a time when cultures come together to honor their faith and heritage.

Let’s take a journey around the world to explore how different countries celebrate Lent and the rich traditions they uphold.

Philippines - In the Philippines, Lent is a time of deep religious devotion and cultural expression. Filipinos observe Lent with fasting, abstinence from meat, and attending church services. One of the most iconic traditions is the “Senakulo,” a Passion play that reenacts the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Filipinos also prepare special Lenten dishes, such as “binignit” to be shared with family and friends.

Spain - Spain is renowned for its elaborate Semana Santa or Holy Week celebrations, particularly in cities like Seville and Malaga. These celebrations feature processions with intricately decorated floats depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ. Hooded penitents, known as “nazarenos,” participate in the processions as a form of penance, creating a striking visual spectacle that attracts visitors from around the world.

Italy - In Italy, Lent is a time of spiritual reflection and prayer, particularly in the lead-up to Easter. One of the most revered traditions is the “Stations of the Cross” procession, where participants retrace the steps of Jesus on the way to his crucifixion. Italians also observe Lent with fasting and abstinence from meat, while preparing traditional dishes that are both simple and symbolic of the season.

Brazil - In Brazil, Lent is a time of contrasts, as it follows the exuberant celebration of Carnaval. However, the end of Carnaval marks the beginning of Lent, which is observed with fasting and abstinence from meat. Brazilian Catholics also participate in processions and attend church services as they prepare for Easter.

Germany - In Germany, Lent is known as “Fastenzeit” and is observed with fasting, prayer and acts of charity. Traditional Lenten foods include fish, vegetables and bread, while meat and rich foods are avoided.

Poland - In Poland, Lent is a time of spiritual renewal and preparation for Easter. Polish Catholics observe Lent with fasting, abstinence, and attending church services. Traditional Lenten dishes include “barszcz” (beet soup) and “pierogi” (filled dumplings).

Ireland - In Ireland, Lent is observed with fasting, abstinence, and attending church services. Traditional Lenten dishes include fish, seafood and vegetables, while meat and dairy products are avoided.

Greece - Lent in Greece, known as “Sarakosti,” is a time of fasting and spiritual reflection. Greeks abstain from meat and dairy products during Lent, instead focusing on a diet of seafood, vegetables and legumes. The “Stations of the Cross” procession is also observed in Greece, along with other religious and cultural traditions that emphasize the importance of this season.

Ethiopia - In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Lent is known as “Hudadi” and lasts for 55 days, longer than the Western Christian observance of Lent. Ethiopian Christians fast from animal products, including meat, dairy and eggs, and instead consume a diet of vegetables and grains. The fasting period is a time of prayer, reflection and community, with special church services held throughout the season.

Lent is a time of diverse traditions and practices that unite people around the world in their faith and heritage. Whether through fasting, prayer or cultural celebrations, the Lenten season offers a time for reflection and renewal, reminding us of the universal themes of sacrifice, redemption, and most importantly, hope.


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