Unlike other widely observed Christian holidays, such as Easter or Christmas, Lent is not as popularly observed by Americans, according to a LifeWay Research study released in February.
The holiday, which begins on Ash Wednesday, is an approximately six-week long season of preparing the individual for Easter Sunday. Most who celebrate the holiday give up something during the period, such as food or activities.
Some 76 percent of Americans do not typically observe Lent, the study found, and among the religious groups which celebrate the holiday, Catholics are the most likely to do so (61 percent).
Evangelicals (28 percent) and Protestant Christians (20 percent) were less likely to say they observe Lent.
According to Scott McConnell, the executive director of LifeWay Research, the fact that the Lenten season has to do with giving up pleasures might have to do with its lack of popularity among Americans.
“Lent is not about having your best life now. Those who observe it believe they are giving up things they want in order to focus on what God wants,” said McConnell. “There’s little popular appeal in that.
Food or beverage were the most popular items that observers said they give up during Lent (57 percent), while others also said they give up bad habits (35 percent) and activities (23 percent).
However, many also said they take the opportunity provided by the Lenten season to practice their faith more. Most said they attend church services (57 percent) during Lent, and many also said they pray more (39 percent) and give to others (38 percent).
“There’s a lot more to Lent than giving things up. Americans who observe Lent also take other steps — like praying, giving, and going to church more — to practice their faith,” said McConnell.
Younger adults were much more likely to say they are giving up their favorite food or beverage for lent, as a whopping 86 percent of those between 18 to 24 years old said so. Half of those between 25 to 34 years old, 58 percent of those between 35 to 44, 61 percent of those between 55 to 64, and 43 percent of those 65 years old or older said the same.