From now until Thursday, March 24, thousands of believers across the United States are observing Lent, a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and reflection in preparation for the celebration of Easter.
During the Season of Lent, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often taking personal vows of abstinence, choosing to give up something valuable, or volunteering and giving of themselves to others. The forty days of Lent represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan (Matthew 4).
While the overall theme of Lent remains the same around the country, what individuals choose to give up for the season varies significantly from state to state, according to Google search data shared by Time Magazine.
Food items -- such as meat, dairy, sweets, alcohol and chocolate -- proved to be the most popular items that Christians and other Lent-observers have decided to sacrifice for the six-week period. Eight states, including Ohio, Wisconsin, and Vermont, opted to give up eating meat during Lent, while five states chose to sacrifice eating chocolate, including Indiana, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Meanwhile, alcohol was given up in seven states, including New Jersey, Texas, and South Carolina, while two states -- Maryland and South Dakota -- relinquished coffee during Lent. Other states, including Georgia and Tennessee, gave up various forms of social media, while still others gave up negative emotions, such as fear and self-criticism.
Five states decided to refrain from engaging in sexual activities during the Lenten season, including California, Alabama, New Hampshire, Colorado and Louisiana, whereas Washington state decided to give up dating.
The report notes that Google compiled the data used in the charts by sifting through users' search engines for entries containing the terms "Lent" and "give up." The resulting list reflects the top-searched items represented from users in each state.
Whatever your Lenten practice may be, remember to ultimately reflect on your spiritual state, deepen your relationship with Christ, and thank Him for His tremendous sacrifice on the cross.
Matthew 6:16-18: "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."