Lent in the Christian calendar is the forty-day period of atonement and fasting that begins on Ash Wednesday and culminates with Holy Week. Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday, is an important Holy Day because it marks Christ's death on the cross. This entire holy season commemorates the period when Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert after His baptism (by John the Baptist). (see Matthew 4: 1-2). A triumphant celebration of Christ's resurrection marks the conclusion of Lent.
Traditional Observances and Discipline
On Ash Wednesday, Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and members of other Christian denominations place blessed ashes in the shape of a cross on each forehead. During the six-week period of Lent in the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday and Friday fasting consists of three meals, no meat and no snacks between meals. It is expected that each person will increase prayer, alms giving, and give up something dear and of value--or else provide for others out of one's normal routine. This is a sign of unity and sacrifice for the Lord's sake.
After Lent, these churches start the Octave of Easter recognition.
Holy Week is the final week of Lent. It begins the Sunday before Easter, called Palm Sunday, on which Christ's welcome into Jerusalem is celebrated. The week concludes with Holy Thursday, which commemorates the Last Supper. Holy Friday or Good Friday commemorates the passion and death of Christ. Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday celebrate the glorious resurrection of Christ from the dead.