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What To Give Up for Lent? Twitter Reveals Top 100 Ideas of 2015

(UPDATED) Here's what 409,000 people pledged to fast from for the next 40 days.
What To Give Up for Lent? Twitter Reveals Top 100 Ideas of 2015OpenBible.info
What Twitter users gave up for Lent in 2015.

[Updated Feb. 23 with final total from Ash Wednesday week.]

Nearly one in five Americans observed Lent last year. This year, more than 400,000 tweeted about their fast.

Food and technology remained the most popular categories that tweeting Americans reported giving up in 2015. The top five choices: School, chocolate, Twitter, alcohol, and social networking—ideas consistently popular for Christians since Smith began using Twitter’s API to track Lent in 2009. [The final 2015 tally is below.]

"My hypothesis last year was that 'school' was so high because Ash Wednesday coincided with spring break at many schools, but that isn’t the case this year. In the UK, A-Level exams are coming up at the beginning of March, so that may be part of it," wrote Stephen Smith of OpenBible.info who tracks hundreds of thousands of Lenten tweets during the week of Ash Wednesday.

Smith also reported on how retweets affected his Lent tracker. While the top 15 terms are largely similar to the original list, college jumps nine spots to No. 2, and Obama jumps 61 spots to No. 9. [The full list is below.]

Overall, the number of tweets fell sharply from last year. In 2014, roughly 646,000 tweets were published during the week of Ash Wednesday compared to the 409,000 in 2015.

Seven Deadly Sins

Seven Deadly Sins

Favorite Brands

Favorite Brands

Current events and pop culture are sometimes reflected in Lenten tweets, though Smith noted his surprise that given last week's harsh winter weather, "weather-related tweets aren’t more popular."

"As a category, they move up one place from last year (to #12 from #13), though individually 'snow' moves up eight places and 'cold weather' moves up 79 places," he wrote.

In 2014, rapper Lil Boosie was released from prison during the week of Ash Wednesday, leading people to joke that he had given up prison for Lent. (The hip-hop artist came in at No. 51.) In 2013, after Pope Benedict announced he leaving the papacy, some wrote he was abstaining from “being pope.” (This phrase ranked No. 1.)

Boys and Girls

Boys and Girls

Diets

Diets

One thing people don't give up: Bible verses. Bible Gateway told CT that Lent is its busiest season of the year, with traffic between Ash Wednesday and Easter clocking in at 15 percent higher than the rest of 2014. Searches relating to dust and fasting increased 1000 percent and 500 percent respectively on the days surrounding Ash Wednesday. Searches for repentance increased by 50 percent on Ash Wednesday.

Fast Food

Fast Food

Netflix v. Television

Netflix v. Television

Of the 17 percent of Americans that observe Lent, the majority are practicing Catholics (63%) compared to 16 percent of practicing Protestants, according to a 2014 report by the Barna Group. People born in 1945 or earlier are most likely to fast (26%), and people born between 1946 and 1964 are least likely (10%). About 20 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 say they will fast.

Attitudes

Attitudes

Twitter users giving up technology join 48 percent of practicing Protestants in the endeavor, according to Barna. Last year, people planned to fast from social networks (16%), smartphones (13%), television (11%), video games (10%), and the Internet (9%).

Faith and Technology

Faith and Technology

Among all Lent fasters—including those not on Twitter—food is still the most popular thing to sacrifice. Ninety-six percent of fasting Protestants and 89 percent of fasting Catholics are giving up some food item. The overall breakdown includes chocolate (30%), meat (28%), soda (26%) and alcohol (24%).

Snacks

Snacks

CT regularly reports on Lent, including three views on why bother celebrating Lent, what neuroscience tells us about Lent, Lent in Narnia, and the argument for lengthening Lent.

Here are the top things given up in 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Here is Smith's final total of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2015:

Rank Word Count
1 School 6,281
2 Chocolate 4,293
3 Twitter 3,876
4 Alcohol 3,216
5 Social networking 3,090
6 Swearing 2,887
7 Soda 2,473
8 Sweets 2,122
9 Fast food 2,056
10 Coffee 1,706
11 College 1,631
12 F***boys 1,527
13 You 1,462
14 Lent 1,348
15 Meat 1,335
16 Homework 1,208
17 Sex 1,165
18 Junk food 1,112
19 Pizza 1,067
20 Bread 1,060
21 Chips 905
22 Facebook 853
23 Boys 665
24 Candy 625
25 Netflix 610
26 Religion 602
27 Beer 596
28 Starbucks 591
29 Work 575
30 Sugar 565
31 Instagram 554
32 Ice cream 520
33 Life 489
34 Winter 454
35 Smoking 441
36 Wine 435
37 Me 434
38 Cookies 430
39 Chipotle 422
40 Snapchat 408
41 Feelings 393
42 Marijuana 381
43 Shopping 374
44 Rice 357
45 My phone 351
45 Virginity 351
46 Catholicism 337
47 Food 329
48 Cheese 315
49 Stuff 307
50 McDonald’s 300
51 Carbs 295
52 Snow 284
53 Desserts 276
54 French fries 257
55 People 248
56 Coke 245
57 Fried food 242
58 Red meat 237
59 Masturbation 233
60 Selfies 230
61 Hope 224
61 Sobriety 224
62 Procrastination 219
63 Complaining 216
64 Makeup 214
64 Caffeine 214
65 Booze 211
65 Negativity 211
66 Takeout 210
67 Eating out 184
68 Cake 183
69 Chick Fil A 179
70 Obama 178
71 Fizzy drinks 175
72 Porn 173
73 Diet Coke 172
74 Pancakes 159
75 Breathing 158
76 Classes 157
77 Sleep 156
78 Peanut butter 152
79 Cold weather 151
80 Hot Cheetos 145
81 Liquor 144
82 Tea 143
83 Dunkin Donuts 138
84 Taco Bell 137
85 Men 135
86 Sarcasm 133
87 Winning 127
88 Online shopping 126
89 Sweet tea 125
90 Caring 124
91 Pasta 123
92 Naps 122
93 Juice 117
94 Nothing 115
94 A levels 115
94 Being mean 115
95 Him 113
96 New Year’s resolutions 112
97 My swag 111
97 Gluten 111
98 Exercise 110
98 Church 110
99 My boyfriend 109
100 Dairy 106

2015 total including retweets (final):

Rank Word Count Difference from non-retweet rank
1 School 38,532 0
2 College 17,615 9
3 F***boys 6,461 9
4 Chocolate 5,127 -2
5 Twitter 5,074 -2
6 Alcohol 4,427 -2
7 Social networking 3,968 -2
8 Swearing 3,534 -2
9 Obama 3,351 61
10 You 2,940 3
11 Soda 2,820 -4
12 Coffee 2,506 -2
13 Sweets 2,499 -5
14 Homework 2,456 2
15 Fast food 2,356 -6

2014 total (final):

Rank Word Count
1 School 11,757
2 Chocolate 9,515
3 Twitter 8,642
4 Swearing 7,132
5 Alcohol 6,325
6 Soda 5,446
7 Social networking 4,197
8 Sweets 4,188
9 Fast food 4,088
10 Lent 2,842
11 Meat 2,790
12 Homework 2,760
13 Junk food 2,723
14 Coffee 2,678
15 Sex 2,392
16 Chips 2,129
17 Bread 2,020
18 You 2,016
19 Facebook 1,926
20 Pizza 1,628
21 Starbucks 1,566
22 Candy 1,412
23 Instagram 1,212
24 Religion 1,147
25 Virginity 1,143
26 Cookies 1,053
27 Work 1,031
28 Ice cream 1,025
29 Boys 1,021
30 Marijuana 1,018
31 Smoking 994
32 Beer 939
33 Life 933
34 Food 930
35 McDonalds 926
36 Winter 853
37 Netflix 851
38 College 819
39 My phone 777
40 Shopping 748
41 Stuff 733
42 Selfies 731
43 Chipotle 726
44 Masturbation 725
45 Sugar 682
46 Cheese 670
47 Me 656
48 Sobriety 655
49 Wine 652
50 Carbs 648
51 Boosie 581
52 Fried food 574
53 Caffeine 563
54 Rice 562
55 Catholicism 561
56 Snapchat 543
57 Coke 541
58 Procrastination 517
59 People 516
60 Snow 506
61 Desserts 486
62 Fizzy drinks 480
63 French fries 475
64 Takeout 464
65 Obama 452
66 Makeup 451
67 Taco Bell 434
68 Feelings 434
68 Porn 430
69 Nothing 427
70 My swag 420
71 Negativity 417
72 Red meat 396
73 Diet Coke 390
74 Sarcasm 380
75 Breathing 369
76 Caring 357
77 Complaining 354
78 Tea 352
79 Pancakes 340
80 Peanut butter 336
81 Sweet tea 335
82 Booze 325
83 Sleep 320
84 Hope 316
85 Cake 313
86 Pasta 303
87 TV 302
88 Texting 297
89 Eating out 275
90 Exercise 274
91 Pants 270
92 Electricity 268
93 The gym 258
94 Liquor 245
95 Church 243
96 Tinder 237
97 Tumblr 236
98 Math 236
98 Juice 232
99 Being mean 230
100 Chick Fil A 228

2015 top categories (final):

Rank Category Tweets
1 food 30,148
2 school/work 10,819
3 technology 9,277
4 habits 8,057
5 smoking/drugs/alcohol 6,230
6 relationship 4,229
7 irony 2,978
8 sex 2,274
9 health/hygiene 1,601
10 religion 1,470
11 entertainment 1,069
12 weather 986
13 generic 834
14 shopping 685
15 sports 410
16 money 276
17 politics 216
18 clothes 174
19 celebrity 165
20 possessions 83

2014 top categories (final):

Rank Category Tweets
1 food 62,453
2 school/work 18,148
3 technology 17,615
4 habits 16,616
5 smoking/drugs/alcohol 12,665
6 irony 7,319
7 relationship 6,563
8 sex 5,483
9 health/hygiene 3,476
10 religion 2,784
11 generic 2,504
12 entertainment 1,959
13 weather 1,496
14 shopping 1,183
15 celebrity 961
16 sports 780
17 politics 547
18 clothes 540
19 money 492
20 habit 393
21 possessions 217
22 clothing 62
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Related Topics:Lent; Twitter
Posted:February 17, 2015 at 10:32AM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.
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What To Give Up for Lent? Twitter Reveals Top 100 Ideas of 2015