Lent will start on 5 March or Ash Wednesday
Lent will start on 5 March or Ash WednesdayReuters

Lent is almost here and people will soon need to find ways to observe the 40-day penitential season. The season of Lent developed very early in Christian history as a way of preparing oneself to live the sacrificial life that God had demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

As part of the Lent, Christians try to refrain from certain meals, especially meat and lavish food. They would often stick to a diet of raw fruits and vegetables throughout the 40-day season. For the record, in 2014, Lent starts on 5 March or Ash Wednesday. It ends on 17 April or Holy Thursday. Easter will be celebrated the following Sunday.

However, the times are changing and so should the practice. Here are 10 ways of observing Lent without really giving up on food:

  1. Instead of "giving up" on food or any other habit, try inculcating a new way of living, such as reading the scripture each evening, a daily rosary etc.
  2. Take time out of Twitter, Facebook etc and instead spend time on meditation.
  3. Besides the regular Sunday service, it is good to go to church frequently during Lent. Many churches of various traditions mostly have an additional worship service in midweek, and attendance at these services is a good way to participate in Lent. Ash Wednesday is a good day to start, also Clean Monday or "Ash Monday" is an auspicious day to start a new chapter.
  4. Reconciliation, or Confession, is a wonderful way to turn away from sin and reunite yourself with Christ during Lent. If you haven't already, try getting into the habit of going to Confession on a regular basis.
  5. Fast from a few meals each week, and give the money to groups that help to feed hungry people. Remember, the lent period that starts from the Ash Wednesday marks not just the beginning of the 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting, but also almsgiving. 
  6. An innovative way to observe this lent season would be to take the food-stamp challenge. The average daily amount for a person on food-stamp is currently around $4.20 a day; so why not try living on the daily food-stamp allowance.
  7. If you want to really get into the true spirit of the penitential season, you can think of taking the extreme poverty fast. There are roughly a billion people in the world who live on less than $1.25 a day. Create a food budget with $1.25 a day for a few days and experience what it really means to be poor!
  8. Make a list of all the excesses in your life. Think about which ones you could do without.
  9. Think of somebody who needs help and pray for that person. You can do that while walking on the streets, driving the highways, sitting in your cubicle at work, or going to a movie.
  10. Some people take break from social media during Lent but you can also use the social media to spread the word of God. Use your social media accounts to evangelize by posting snippets of prayer or a scripture verse on Twitter or Facebook.