Just as Lent has two starting days—Ash Wednesday, in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and in those Protestant churches that observe Lent, and Clean Monday for the Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox—so, too, does Lent have two ending days. What most people mean by "When does Lent end?" is "When does the Lenten fast end?" The answer to that question is Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday), which is the 46th day since Ash Wednesday (if you include Ash Wednesday) but the 40th day of the Lenten fast. (For an explanation of the discrepancy, see How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated?)
Liturgically, however, Lent ends two days earlier, on Holy Thursday—at least since 1969, when the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar , which govern the revised Roman calendar which is used in the celebration of the Novus Ordo Mass, were released. More specifically, paragraph 28 of the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar states, "Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive." In other words, liturgically speaking, Lent ends just before the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday evening.
One answer that is commonly given to the question "When does Lent end?" is Palm Sunday (or the Saturday before). In most cases, this stems from a misunderstanding of Holy Week, which some incorrectly think is a separate liturgical season from Lent (as paragraph 28 of the General Norms shows, it is not), or from a misunderstanding of how the 40 days of Lent are calculated (which can be cleared up by reading How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated?).
You can find the dates of Holy Thursday and the dates of Holy Saturday for this and future years below.
Dates of Holy Thursday - Various Years:
- When Is Holy Thursday 2011?
- When Is Holy Thursday 2012?
- When Is Holy Thursday 2013?
- When Is Holy Thursday 2014?
- When Is Holy Thursday 2015?
Dates of Holy Saturday - Various Years:
- When Is Holy Saturday 2011?
- When Is Holy Saturday 2012?
- When Is Holy Saturday 2013?
- When Is Holy Saturday 2014?
- When Is Holy Saturday 2015?
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