Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday? The Fishy History Revealed

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Oct 12, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Oct 27, 2021
Assorted seafood appetizers, fried fish a catholic tradition food

Many Christians have been practicing fasting and abstinence since ancient times.

'The Book of Genesis' talks about all the plants and animals made by God. The book also teaches that if a human eats and consumes any food, whether animal or plant, it does not make the human an evil person or an evil soul.

It teaches that God has created many kinds of plants and animals. The animals, as well as the plants that God has created, are suitable for human beings. With so much positivity created by God, Catholics abstain from certain foods for several days.

Catholics typically refrain from consuming meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent, including Good Friday. Not only is abstaining from food (which means avoiding certain types of food, including vegetables) common, but on some particular days, many people fast entirely. Fasting r

efers to avoiding food on certain days. The reasons behind abstaining from food are related to the death of Jesus Christ and the beliefs that Jesus Christ taught to Christians.

In early times, some people believed that Jesus lived his whole life thinking that no human needed food and that the words from God's mouth were enough to sustain life.

The Origins Of Eating Fish On Fridays

According to Christian belief, Jesus died on a Friday and redeemed a sinful world. As early as the first century, people have written about fasting on Friday to remember this sacrifice.

During Lent, the (roughly) forty days preceding Easter, Catholics engage in different acts of abstinence and spiritual self-discipline. One of these disciplines is fasting, which encourages Catholics to refrain from eating meat on Fridays throughout Lent.

The rule is founded on Church authority rather than Scripture authority. Most Christians must abstain from meat and thus, eat fish on Fridays as a tradition.

Christians have to fast every sixth day of the week (Friday). Fish was referred to as the food of the poor or local people, and, on the death day of Jesus Christ, Christians stayed away from luxurious foods.

Instead, they eat food eaten by the poor many years ago in Medieval times. Where rich people mostly ate meat in ancient times, fish was considered food for poor and local people as it was readily available.

Do all Christians eat fish on Fridays?

The tradition is to practise abstinence from meat, and not necessarily to eat fish on Fridays. Technically, the meat of warm-blooded animals is forbidden, given that an innocent animal, in a sense, gave its life for us.

Catholics are supposed to fast from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday throughout Lent (including Good Friday). Fish is frequently used as a meat replacement. Of course, with the growth of vegetarian and vegan diets, there are several alternatives to fish.

There are exceptions to the overall norm as well. Children under the age of 14, the elderly, pregnant women, the sick, and travelers in difficult circumstances were exempt from abstinence.

What happens if Catholics eat meat on Friday?

According to the Catholic Church, when a Catholic eats meat on Ash Wednesdays, Good Fridays, or even on Fridays, it is considered a sin by some. Since ancient times, Catholics have practiced abstaining from meat on certain days of a week and month.

Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Easter Sunday, April 4, is when Catholics focus on spiritual growth and strengthening their faith in God. Prayer, fasting, and charity are the three fundamental activities Catholics are encouraged to practise throughout Lent.

Eating meat on a Friday is considered equal to murdering an animal for some. Harming any living thing is strictly against the rules of Christians. They believe that Christ led his life helping needy humans and animals.

He never appreciated any hurtful act which could cause pain to an individual. The Catholic Church has instituted a Friday meat fast for the spiritual benefit of the faithful. It is a discipline that the Church may and has modified according to the requirements of the place and time.

If you consume meat on a Friday, the sinful act is disobedience to what the Church is asking believers to do as a matter of discipline.

Why do Protestants not eat fish on Fridays?

Jesus Christ said that it doesn't matter what humans eat as long as they only speak good words. With this in mind, Protestants do not conform to the rule of eating fish on Fridays.

They follow Christ's belief that a person should have a good heart. They do not believe that the type of food they eat shows who they are.

Some Christians believe that Christ always encouraged people to have a good heart and a pure soul. They feel that if a person has a pure soul, the words coming out of their mouth will be considered by God. They feel that they should never fast and abstain only when they have limited food choices.

Protestants work with the same mentality towards food. They do not refrain from meat on Fridays or have only fish on some days. They eat meat whenever they want to.

Why do Catholics not eat meat on Fridays?

Because this is the day when Christ died, it seems fitting to refrain from spilling blood. Because Jesus advised fasting, but not as a ceremonial act—and particularly not as a burden to the poor, who must eat when they can, even if it is against religious tradition.

Instead, Jesus advised fasting when one does not feel God's presence. God created animals on the sixth day, and refraining from meat provides a symbolic 'stay of execution' for animals.

Catholics don't eat flesh meat on Fridays in honor of Jesus' sacrifice of his flesh for them on Good Friday. The me at of mammals and birds is classified as flesh meat, and the most common meats are beef, chicken, and pork.

While the flesh of these animals is forbidden, non-flesh products such as milk, butter, and eggs are not.

Fish does not fall within the category of flesh meat. Furthermore, flesh meat was more costly in the past, consumed less, and connected with feasting and joy, whereas fish was less expensive, consumed more, and not linked with festivities.

The Church's abstinence rule merely required its members to refrain from eating meat on Fridays, with the notion that people would limit their meals to vegetables and grains. Meat is commonly defined as the meat of warm-blooded terrestrial animals.

Fish, on the other hand, are water-dwelling, cold-blooded species. Using this technicality, people began eating fish flesh instead of animal meat on days of abstinence.

As a result, eating fish on Fridays became a Catholic custom. People have been eating fish from the dawn of time, although consumption was generally restricted to locations near water sources where fish were plentiful.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
Read full bio >