The German word "Fastenzeit" (lit. fasting time or lent) places emphasis on dietary fasting as an expression of self-denial and preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent became a 40 day period during the first Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Shortly after that, cooks began creating foods and menus which adhered to the letter if not the spirit of Church doctrine.
There was also a "Fastengebot," or fasting rules beginning on the 11th of November (Sankt Martinstag) and running through to Christmas. This law was suspended in 1917, and the word "Fastenzeit" is limited to the six weeks before Easter.