Since moving to the US over ten years ago, I’ve embraced the American way of life, but there are still some traditions from back home that I cling to. Things like Boxing Day (over here it’s just the day after Christmas), rugby and football (not of the American variety), and pancake day.
Today is Ash Wednesday in the liturgical calendar, and the first day of Lent, a shortened form of the old English word Lenten meaning ‘Spring’. Ash Wednesday always follows Shrove Tuesday (or pancake day) when traditionally foods like milk and eggs were used up in preparation for the 40 day fast of Lent.
In the UK, most people grow up ‘giving something up’ for Lent, and there’s usually a lot of fun and chatter leading up to the period of abstaining from a particular vice in the weeks before Easter. Not so much Stateside, where Lent isn’t widely observed outside of religion.
I decided last week I’d probably give up drinking tea. To be fair, it was a bit of a cop-out. Coffee is the hot beverage of choice here, and even those who do make tea don’t make it properly (sorry America but that’s a fact) and serve it up with cream! Anyway, the result is I only drink tea at home, so chances of slipping up were pretty low. Or so I thought until I remembered today is Ash Wednesday – as I was downing my second cup of the day! Yes, my Lent sacrifice lasted all of six and a half hours.
So, I’m re-evaluating what I can give up, thinking about what haven’t already indulged in today that I might miss enough to make it a suitable sacrifice.