Lent, the 40-day period before Easter — Catholicism’s most important holiday — begins Wednesday, with many Catholics visiting churches to receive a crosses of ashes on their foreheads as a sign of penitence.
The purpose of Lent is to remind Catholics of Jesus Christ’s sacrifices, including fasting in the desert and enduring crucifixion, according to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Catholics are expected to give up eating meat today and all Fridays during Lent.
Many also choose to give up other activities or foods they enjoy.
Stephen Smith at OpenBible.com tracks the top 100 things Twitter users say they are giving up for Lent each year. This year a whole bunch of jokers are saying they’re giving up “being pope,” making it the most popular activity to abstain from.
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Swearing, social networking, soda, chips, alcohol, “giving up things,” cookies, virginity (more jokesters, we presume) and fast food round out the top ten most popular sacrifices.
Other popular choices: marijuana, procrastinating, football (including watching FIFA games) and makeup.
Among the companies whose business could suffer over the next six weeks as Lent observers avoid them in particular: McDonald’s, Nando’s, Red Bull and Netflix.
Fewer people are giving up meat and chocolate more than in previous years, but the list will continue to collect Lenten sacrifices until Feb. 15, so that could change.