Once again, you can follow in real time what Twitter users say they are giving up for Lent, which this year begins on Wednesday, February 14.

Last year, food items were three times as popular to abstain from as technology items or personal habits, according to 73,334 tweets analyzed by OpenBible.info’s Stephen Smith during the week of Ash Wednesday 2017. Alcohol ranked No. 1 for the first time since his project began in 2009.

This year, the creator of the Twitter Lent Tracker says he “expect[s] relationship-related tweets to run higher than usual” because Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day. (Also, Easter coincides with April Fools’ Day.)

How 2018's top 5 food abstentions have fared.
Image: OpenBible.info

How 2018's top 5 food abstentions have fared.

Smith was most curious last year about how high Donald Trump would rank among perennial favorites such as social networking, alcohol, and chocolate. The President ended up finishing No. 22 in 2017, up from No. 82 in 2016.

Meanwhile, LifeWay Research offered a chance to compare Twitter’s serious vs. sarcastic sharers last year via its study on what Americans who observe the Lenten season before Easter say they actually give up.

Of note: 3 in 10 Americans with evangelical beliefs (28%) say they observe Lent; of these, 42 percent typically fast from a favorite food or beverage while 71 percent typically attend church services.

Catholics remain the most likely to observe Lent (61%), with 2 out of 3 fasting from a favorite food or beverage (64%).

Overall, 1 in 4 Americans observes Lent (24%), according to LifeWay. Most American observers fast from a favorite food or beverage (57%) vs. a bad habit (35%) or a favorite activity (23%).

Hispanics were the most likely ethnic group to observe Lent (36%), and were more likely than whites to abstain from a favorite activity (34% vs. 17%) or a bad habit (50% vs. 30%).

In 2014, Barna Group found that 17 percent of US adults planned to fast during Lent, including 63 percent of practicing Catholics and 16 percent of practicing Protestants. Most were giving up a food item, including chocolate (30%), meat (28%), soda (26%), or alcohol (24%).

Twitter’s top five Lenten choices have proven consistently popular since Smith began tracking Lent in 2009. Here is how the top 5 ideas of 2017 have trended:

How the top 5 Twitter ideas of 2017 have trended since 2009. (Note: 2018 data is not yet complete.)
Image: OpenBible.info

How the top 5 Twitter ideas of 2017 have trended since 2009. (Note: 2018 data is not yet complete.)

Smith charts different trends over time, such as this attempt to track the “seven deadly sins”:

The Twitter Lent Tracker's trend line from 2009 to 2017. (Note: 2018 data is not complete yet.)
Image: OpenBible.info

The Twitter Lent Tracker's trend line from 2009 to 2017. (Note: 2018 data is not complete yet.)

For comparison, here are the top 100 ideas of 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014, as well as a word cloud of last year’s top ideas:

Twitter's top 100 ideas of 2017.
Image: Stephen Smith / OpenBible.info

Twitter's top 100 ideas of 2017.

CT regularly reports on Lent, including three views on why bother celebrating Lent, the best books to read for Lent, Lent in Narnia, and the argument for lengthening Lent. CT editor-in-chief Mark Galli offered his thoughts on “giving up self discipline” for Lent.

Below is Smith’s running tally of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2018. (This list will eventually cover all tweets from February 11–17 that mention giving up something for Lent and, except as noted, excludes retweets.)

Top 100 Things (29,288 tweets, 12:45 p.m. Feb. 17)

Rank What Number of Tweets
1. social networking 1,319
2. twitter 1,210
3. alcohol 1,088
4. chocolate 1,023
5. swearing 541
6. meat 523
7. sweets 491
8. soda 437
9. coffee 382
10. fast food 377
11. lent 370
12. facebook 340
13. sex 313
14. bread 265
15. school 256
16. chips 218
17. snapchat 214
18. beer 189
19. you 188
20. men 188
21. plastic 185
22. sugar 184
23. boys 165
24. candy 160
25. valentines day 157
26. college 145
27. work 145
28. guns 141
29. instagram 141
30. negativity 139
31. life 136
32. marijuana 132
33. junk food 130
34. religion 129
35. giving up things 111
36. starbucks 110
37. cheese 106
38. red meat 106
39. catholicism 105
40. pizza 102
41. smoking 100
42. love 100
43. wine 92
44. carbs 90
45. me 88
46. fortnite 87
47. lying 84
48. dairy 81
49. homework 78
50. fried food 74
51. rice 74
52. booze 74
53. ice cream 73
54. complaining 70
55. cookies 69
56. single use plastic 67
57. shopping 67
58. caffeine 65
59. people 65
60. stuff 60
61. masturbation 59
62. f***boys 58
63. hope 57
64. procrastination 56
65. takeout 56
66. donald trump 56
67. sobriety 55
68. liquor 55
69. mcdonalds 55
70. hot cheetos 54
71. virginity 53
72. netflix 52
73. french fries 51
74. fizzy drinks 48
75. eating out 48
76. chick fil a 47
77. porn 47
78. makeup 46
79. myself 45
80. pasta 44
81. him 43
82. juuling 43
83. desserts 41
84. coke 40
85. food 39
86. mass shootings 38
87. sleep 38
88. pork 38
89. dating 38
90. boba 37
91. pancakes 36
92. my will to live 36
93. being single 36
94. breathing 36
95. the presidency 35
96. cake 35
97. online shopping 32
98. tea 31
99. tv 30
100. school shootings 29

Top Categories

Rank Category Number of Tweets
1. food 6,625
2. technology 3,532
3. habits 2,008
4. smoking/drugs/alcohol 1,994
5. relationship 1,331
6. irony 934
7. school/work 714
8. sex 563
9. religion 401
10. politics 249
11. generic 223
12. possessions 155
13. entertainment 146
14. shopping 142
15. health/hygiene 124
16. money 93
17. sports 51
18. weather 21
19. clothes 14
January/February
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