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Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Friday of Sorrows, further climaxing on Jesus’crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional, to draw themselves near to God. TheStations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches remove flowers from their altars, while crucifixes, religious statues, and other elaborate religious symbols are often veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event. Throughout Christendom, some adherents mark the season with the traditional abstention from the consumption of meat, most notably among Roman Catholics.
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels ofMatthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by the Devil. However, different Christian denominations calculate the forty days of Lent differently. Historically, the season of Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday and includes the Paschal Triduum. This duration has been maintained by most Western Christian denominations, including the Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, and Western Rite Orthodox Church. However, after the liturgical abbreviations of the Second Vatican Council in the Roman Catholic Church, Lent, in that denomination alone, is now taken to end on Maundy Thursday rather than Easter Eve, and hence lasts 38 days excluding Sundays, or 44 days in total.