Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Vernal Equinox

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Lenten Fact

The word “lent” is not an ancient one. The original name for this period that begins on the fortieth day before Easter was tessarakoste in Greek and quadragesima in Latin, both of which refer to forty. In the Late Middle Ages, when the church started using local languages more, many cultures switched to a local word that suggested “fortieth day”. In Germany and the Netherlands, however, the word used was the word for spring, “lenz” in German, “lente” in Dutch, which literally mean “long”, marking the spring equinox when the days start getting longer than the nights. This usage traveled with the Anglo-Saxons to Britain, and into the English language.

This morning, March 20, is the vernal equinox. Spring and fall equinoxes occur midway between the longest and shortest days of the year, when the sun is directly over the equator and spends exactly half the day above the horizon and half below. (If you’re keeping track, days are already a bit longer because the sun keeps giving light even when its center-point has passed below the horizon.) From this point until the summer solstice, the days continue to get longer.

In Persian and Zoroastrian culture, the spring equinox marks the beginning of the new year, Nowruz (which means new day.) It is celebrated as the new year in many places that were once part of the Persian Empire, including Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and much of Central Asia and the Caucuses.

This year the spring equinox happens to fall on a Friday, so consider having the traditional Nowruz dinner, Sabzi Polo Mahi — white fish served with green rice pilaf (colored and flavored with green herbs.) Soak white fish fillets in milk and dust them with flour mixed with curry powder and turmeric, then saute them. Stir lots of chopped green herbs — parsley, coriander, chives, dill and fenugreek — into basmati rice while it’s cooking. (Here’s a great recipe at

Fast from listening to your mp3 player, or music or any electronic noise at all today.

Pray in silence for 10 minutes. Tell Jesus anything you wish to say or recount the events of the day to him with your comments on each one. Listen in silence for what you might need to hear from God.

Give the rest of the time you would normally spend listening to your mp3 player or radio to someone who needs your attention today, or donate the cost of a downloaded album or item to your FastPrayGive Bowl. (Your FastPrayGive Bowl is a container you’ve set aside to hold the money saved from various fasting challenges, to be used for whatever charity you choose at the end of Lent.)

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