Having been brought up a Catholic, I've pre-programmed with certain thoughts, feelings and expectations. For example, I always crave fish and chips on a Friday. The Catholic church had a thing about not eating meat on Friday, so fish and chips became the default meal for that day, especially during the six weeks before Easter. At my primary school eveery pupil looked forward to Friday because it was fish and chip day - a nice change from sausage rolls or savoury mince [in essence, mince with onion - cooking was a more innocent, uncomplicated cuisine in those days]. Going to college, I find myself contemplating having fish and chips, but the mind rebels - because it's a Thursday and my whole week'll be out of kilter if I do.
Ash Wednesday? That's the day a giant in colourful robes comes to smear burnt dirt on my face. Palm Sunday? We didn't have palms locally, so we made do with Douglas Firs. Now whenever I brush past the Douglas Fir in our garden I get Palm Sunday flashbacks from the scent of the tree.
The other big memory from Lent or Advent or whatever it's called these days is having to give something up for the six week period. Usually it was chocolate, in adult life it became beer - always something you really enjoyed, as a sign of what you were giving up.
At college last week the talk turned to what we were giving up for the Easter period. My answer? This Lent I'm giving up abstinence.