Did you ever wonder how the Christian season of Lent came into the Church calendar? It is a widespread belief that it has always been part of the Christian faith, and some even believing that Jesus himself instructed the twelve disciples to make this one of the necessary practices of the Church they would build, but both these assumptions are incorrect.
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and the first mention of Lent as a Festival of the Christian Church comes from the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. The Council of Nicaea is the same Church council which formalized the Nicaean Creed, which is recited to this day in many Christian churches. The Council also issued twenty canons of a practical nature dealing with various aspects of Church life, with the fifth of these canons dealing with Lent.
The word used in this fifth canon to connote Lent was tessarakonta, which in Greek means 40. For the first time in recorded history, we have mention of the period of preparation for Easter as lasting 40 days. This length of time was adopted using as an exemplar the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert at the beginning of his public ministry.