Lent begins March 9th of this year and marks the period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter. This practice was virtually universal in Christendom until the Protestant Reformation. Although some Protestant churches do not observe Lent, many protestants do (like my wife and I).
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer, through prayer, penitence,almsgiving and self-denial, for the annual commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Christ.
Conventionally, it is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. The forty days represent the time that, according to the Bible, Jesusspent in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan.
There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance or refraining. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer , fasting, and almsgiving. Today, some people give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God. For example many people give the time or money wasted to give to charitable purposes or organizations.