Saturday, February 16, 2013
Quadregesima is Latin for "the fortieth". In the Latin Church it referred to the 40 days of fasting and prayer prior to Christmas, Easter and the feast of St. John the Baptist. Today it refers to the period before Easter. In the English speaking world, the Teutonic word for spring time, Lent, is used instead of a derivative of Quadregisima. The Italian, Spanish and French for example, use Cuaresima, Cuaresma and Carême respectively.
It's hard to think of a spring time when the temperature is still frigid (well, around here sometimes) and the trees are all bare, especially when lent falls so early. It's also hard when this time period is often though of as going into the desert. On the official calender the Spring Equinox falls on March 20, a week or so before Easter Sunday, so the vast majority of Lent falls during winter, but maybe the Teutons were more phenomenological than astronomical and noticed that the time prior to the Feast of Our Lord's Resurrection saw the blossoming of the flora despite the axis of the Earth (or the reaction a large rodent from a tiny little town in western Pennsylvania).