This year, Lent starts one day short of the latest date on which it can begin: Ash Wednesday falls on March 9. Lent is a word derived from the German, Lenz, and the Dutch, lente, both of which mean spring. In the West, Lent is an official part of the liturgical year of the Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, and Presbyterian Churches, and it may be a formal part of the spiritual year of other churches of which I am unaware. Although few Western Christians are aware of the fact, observance of Lent was a point of controversy at the time of the Reformation.
Generally, Lent is considered a time of repentance. The English word "repentance" is a common translation of the Greek word metanoia, which literally means "change of mind." "Change of mind" to what during Lent? To putting on the mind of Christ. Why put on the mind of Christ? Because, if one does not put on the mind of Christ, one will be unable to do Christ-like deeds. One will be unable to obey Jesus' new commandment to "Love one another as I have loved you." The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the "new commandment" is the commandment of Jesus that "contains the entire Law of the Gospel" (#1970), and that it "expresses the entire the will of the Father," which is to be done on earth as it is in heaven" (#2822).