I didn't really notice until I started hearing people complaining about it. But, that's the true test of whether something has got people's attention, isn't it? Oddly to me, this year as fat Tuesday and Carnival approached, most of the chatter was of people talking about Lent. I expect that people talk about Mardi Gras, or partying. But this year was hopeful talk of Lent. And not just the Christians. People of various faiths, or no faith did as well. I thought this was odd, until I started talking to them. I began to realize that the roots of Lent go deep. Not just in our culture but in people in general. I think that Lent just fits with the natural rhythm of late winter.
My view of Great Lent is bound with my faith. Lent is a time of preparation. It is a time of reflection. But it is to often divorced from its wider rhythm. The cycle of Carnival, Lent and Easter is a great and beautiful rhythm. What use are the excesses of Mardi Gras/Carnival if they are not the followed by the austerity of Lent? What use is the austerity of Lent if it does not prepare us for the despair of Holy Week and the Crucifixion? What use of that despair if finally the joy of Easter is not realized?
Historically, in northern countries at least, it comes at a time when precious winter stores, traditionally gathered at harvest and slaughter, are getting starting to get low. In carnival everything that will be given up is cleared out. What is to be given up? Things that spoil. Eggs, Dairy, uncured meat. In anticipation and fear of the strictures of Lent, we have one of the wonderful inversion festivals I love so well. But this is not the time for a meditation on the carnival and inversion. I mention it, because without it, Lent loses something.
Anyway, for whatever reason that you observe Great Lent, or not, best wishes to you.