“Chocolate and crisps”
Are all legitimate answers to the Big Question which gets asked annually on the small island of Ireland: What are you giving up for Lent?
Lent may not be a season which attracts a lot of tourists to Ireland (except for Paddy's day which falls in between). But it should be, because it is a precarious time for us Irish.
Lent suits us, not because we are a Catholic country devoted to penitential preparation, or because of our strong will power, or indeed our spiritual commitment.
But because it gives us a legitimate reason to take part in our favourite passtime: complaining.
I don't mean to paint us Irish in a bad light, as you all know we are a fun loving, adventure seeking, merry folk. But oh do we rejoice in the moaning, groaning, misery department.
We excel in communal suffering, take pleasure in agony and smile in the face of sacrifice.
Lent – depending on what you give up provides the perfect opportunity to join the national hobby. 40 days of complaining, of hunger pains, of smoking craves, of social exclusion (the lack of alcohol) etc.
There is of course more to Lent than the suffering, in Ireland it is a time of dramatic celebration. And in that I mean it is a time for drama to flourish.
Small towns, villages and parishes around the country put aside their beleaguered sacrifices to join with others and provide entertainment for the suffering masses.
Whether competing for the One Act Drama Festival Finals or not, local halls are filled with comedy, dramatic scenes, plights of love and sorrow and best of all some of the finest pieces of Irish literature.
Whether you are just in it for the pancakes and the Easter eggs or you go the whole hog and fast off everything that ever tasted nice – take the time out this Lent to support local drama groups.
Make your Lenten Promise to invest in yourself (that is deep ...) and in Irish culture.
Also are you going off anything 'unusual' this year?!