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Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Fridays?

So, it's Lent again (has been for a few weeks), and it's a Friday, which means I will invariably be asked this question by at least 1 person today:  Why can't you have meat?  I'm tired of answering so often, so here's the answer.

Short and simple: Tradition.  Do I really think I'll burn in Hell if I have meat today?  Absolutely not.  Have I ever eaten meat on a Friday during Lent?  Of course.  Still, though, it's tradition and I like it.  Ok, so you're now probably wondering how that tradition got started.   Believe it or not, it started with the Jews. 

Once upon a time, in a far away land, Jews fasted every Monday and Thursday.  Fasting here does not mean to completely deprive yourself of food, but rather to control your desires, your stomach, and your whims.  It is meant to awaken your sense of spirituality  and encourage you to pray. 

Anyway, meat in those days was very expensive.  Not just anyone ate meat.  Meat was one of those items that either had to be bought in the market or one had to own enough land to raise cattle.  Fish and veggies, however, that was easy stuff.  Anyone could grow veggies and anyone could take a pole and catch a fish.  So, when Jews fasted, they eliminated the expensive stuff and stuck with the items that were available to all.

Christianity changed this fast from Monday and Thursday to Wednesday and Friday because Jesus was betrayed on Wednesday and crucified on Friday.  Wednesday, for some reason, has been forgotten, but Friday still remains.  During Lent, us Catholics are actually supposed to abstain for the whole 40 days (minus Sundays), and the Wednesday / Friday rule is supposed to be followed the entire year.  What can I say?  We've gotten lazy.

Sure, the whole thing might not make sense now a days.  If we were to really analyze the situation, it would probably be deemed that chicken is the best thing (at least in America) because chicken's super cheap.  However, like I said, it's tradition.  Besides, since Hans doesn't so much care for fish, it's a great excuse for me to eat it anyway.

Now that's explained, I would really appreciate it if you all could just respect that.  It's the same as me respecting your family's Christmas traditions.  Please don't plan a dinner that I won't be able to eat at, or at the very least, allow me to bring something I can eat without becoming offended.  I don't hate your cooking (ok, I might), I just don't want to break my tradition.  If you're really close to me, please try to remember.  I'm not forcing you to eat fish (or abstain from meat).  I'm just asking that you don't shove it in my face.

Lastly, thanks to Wendy's, McDonald's, and Arby's (and maybe Burger King.  I haven't checked their menu).  During Lent, you mega-chains actually offer a fish sandwich.  It may not be healthy, but it's fast and it tastes good.  It's perfect when I'm on the run and need a really quick bite to eat.  Thank you! 

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