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UK >

(Tropical) fish for Lent — young to give up most

by a staff reporter

Young people are more likely to give things up for Lent than the over-35s, a new poll suggests.

A Church Times survey of 2222 adults, carried out by YouGov on 16-18 January, found that one quarter of those asked, 24 per cent, intended to give something up for Lent, which starts next week on 13 February, Ash Wednesday.

A surprising finding is that a traditional Lenten abstinence is most popular with the under-35s. In the age group 18-24, 35 per cent said they would give something up; for 25-34-year-olds, the figure was 30 per cent. By contrast, only 21 per cent of over-35s said that they would observe Lent.

Women (27 per cent) are more likely to give up something than men (21 per cent). The greatest Lenten participation is in the Midlands (29 per cent) and London (28 per cent); the least in Eastern England (18 per cent) and Scotland (16 per cent).

Asked what they planned to give up, ten per cent said chocolate, four per cent said alcohol, three per cent said smoking, and two per cent said meat (the traditional Lenten fast). When the question was asked (16-18 January), eight per cent had still to make up their minds. 


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Early learning: probationers of Salisbury Cathedral choir burn palm crosses in preparation for Ash Wednesday

Credit: PA

Early learning: probationers of Salisbury Cathedral choir burn palm crosses in preparation for Ash Wednesday

The Church Times also asked people what they understood by the term "Lent".

When asked to write in a box what they thought Lent was, 49 per cent described it as a time for giving things up; 43 per cent described it as the period before Easter; 40 per cent mentioned that it was a Christian festival; and 28 per cent mentioned that it lasted 40 days or six weeks. These answers were not mutually exclusive. Overall, only ten per cent said they didn't know what it was.

There were some unexpected definitions, however:

"Christians being on diet before important holidays."

"The season is marked by the Western churched adopting the liturgical colour of purple or deep red, though any suggestion that this is the origin of the name of '70's progressive rock band Deep Purple is purely speculative."

"I should know . . . but to my shame . . . I don't."

"How the EU is keeping Greece afloat."

"Sumink Jewish."

"It is a type of tropical fish."

No waiting. Novi United Methodist Church, in Michigan, in the United States, has announced: "Drive Thru Ashes: 7.30 a.m. to 9.00 a.m. . . . No need to exit the vehicle."

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