Believers typically fast, or give up, food or certain activities, for 40 days in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus Christ fasted in the desert. In the Bible, during this period he was tempted by Satan before his public ministry.
Depending on the denomination, Lent is observed in different ways and either ends on the evening of Maundy Thursday or Holy Saturday, during Holy Week.
The term Lent comes from an old English word meaning "lengthen" and is observed in the spring as the days begin to get longer.
On Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, Roman Catholic, Anglican and other churches hold services where churchgoers are marked with a cross of ashes as a symbol of death and sorrow for sin.