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Do you know what Mid-Lent is?

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Marie Le Goaziou - published on 03/14/17

A few facts as to why the Church takes a little break in this period of abstinence

Celebrated this year on March 23, 2017, Mid-Lent marks, as its name suggests, the halfway mark of this season of abstinence before Easter, which in olden times was observed very strictly—where even eggs were forbidden, every day!

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So historically on this third Thursday of Lent, similar to Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, we would empty our reserves so as not to waste any leftover eggs that could not be conserved more than 20 days. We therefore got into the habit of making pancakes, donuts or other sweet pastries. Then for the following 20 days we would re-stock eggs in preparation for the Easter celebrations. Nowadays the regulations for Lenten fasting and abstinence are less rigorous. We also have fridges to keep all our eggs fresh, and a fresh supply readily available from our local supermarkets or farmers’ markets on demand! So along the way Mid-Lent has lost its meaning.

Although we might not be so strict with our fasting habits, the modern-day Church does recognize this mid-way period. In the liturgy, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the Church takes a break from its regular Lenten purple liturgical vestments—the color of penance. On this day priests are given the opportunity to wear rose-colored vestments (a mix of purple and white): rose being the color of dawn, offering a glimpse of the joy we’re all preparing for in the coming of the resurrection of Jesus. This is known as Laetare Sunday from the Latin meaning rejoice.

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