As the Easter weekend approaches, it’s time to feast and celebrate with family and friends.
Most people associate Easter with eating chocolate eggs, but there is another culinary tradition, which dates back to biblical times.
The Christian holiday begins on Good Friday, when it is traditional to eat fish, as opposed to meat, such as beef, pork or poultry.
If fish is on the menu, here’s what you need to know about where the practice originated.
Why do people eat fish on Good Friday?
As Jesus sacrificed his own flesh on Good Friday, Catholics traditionally abstain from eating fleshy meat on this day.
Instead, fish is considered a more favorable type of animal product to eat.
The medieval church decreed that the meat of warm-blooded animals should not be eaten on Fridays, hence the substitution of fish instead.
Other types of Christians believe that eating fish on Good Friday symbolizes the day in the Bible when Jesus was killed by the Romans.
The fish was also used as a sign by the early Christians to identify themselves, for example to mark and recognize designated meeting places.
He was known as ichthus, and used alongside the cross of Jesus Christ in the early Christian community.
As some of Jesus’ disciples were also fishermen, fish is considered a good substitute for meat on Good Friday, as it is regularly mentioned in accounts of the life of the son of God.
In Jesus’ time, fish was considered an easily accessible daily food – and catching fish was much easier than shooting an animal or going hunting.
However, in the 1960s, the pope intervened and changed the decision.
He said it could be changed depending on a person’s economic status, so eating fish on Good Friday is only a guideline, as opposed to the rule.
Nowadays, eating fish and chips on Good Friday has become a tradition, even for those who are not religious.
So if you’re heading to your local chippy on a holiday, be prepared for a queue.