It turns out that because, according to Christian teaching, Jesus died on a Friday, fasting on Fridays became a way to honor his sacrifice. However, this type of fasting didn’t mean not eating anything (unlike trendy modern-day fasts). It simply meant abstaining from eating the flesh of warm-blooded animals—since the thinking goes, Jesus was a warm-blooded animal. Fish, though, which are cold blooded were considered okay to eat on fasting days. Hence, Fish on Fridays and “Fish Friday” (among many other religious holidays) was born.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the story behind why so many eat fish on Fridays is that it was one of the most significant drivers of the growth of the global fishing industry, according to NPR:
But fish—well, they’d been associated with sacred holidays even in pre-Christian times. And as the number of meatless days piled up on the medieval Christian calendar—not just Fridays but Wednesdays and Saturdays, Advent and Lent, and other holy days—the hunger for fish grew. Indeed, fish fasting days became central to the growth of the global fishing industry.
When it comes to the practice of eating fish during Lent, there is an additional component. The Lenten diet consists of primarily fish and vegetables—the food an average/poor person could reasonably acquire during the Roman period. Meat was considered an upper-class luxury.
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