An old friend and I were chatting on Facebook the other day. After the usual life updates, the fact that it was Mardi Gras surfaced.
"So, what are you giving up for Lent?" he asked.
"...Pffft. Nothing. I'm a dirty heathen. And dirty heathens get to be hedonists."
That got me thinking about the whole practice of giving something up for Lent in the spirit of the Lenten fast that Christians used to observe during the holy period. It's not that I think a little self-restraint is bad (far from it). And from a spiritual perspective, I think depriving the self of certain excesses for a period of time is a healthy way of clearing the mind and the body and preparing it for other tasks.
But I think another important aspect of this is that after the "fasting" period is over, you celebrate some sort of rebirth by allowing yourself to partake in whatever it is you've given up again. And since for Lent, that involves celebrating the resurrection of Christ and thus the salvation of mankind, as someone who doesn't really believe in that I don't feel the need to pick this season specifically as a time of fasting and spiritual preuve.
On the other hand, I have no problem with people who give things up for Lent. If anything, I admire their resolve. I just hope they're getting something spiritual out of it as the practice was intended. Otherwise, it's just like a bet you make with yourself: "Can I make it 40 days without x or y?" And even if you lose the bet, the only one who knows is you (and the big Guy "upstairs").
Oh well. This dirty heathen will continue to enjoy her chocolate up to and including Easter.