Why Do People Eat Fish on Friday? The Tradition Explained

Virtually every religion has some kind of tradition that involves abstaining from specific types of food on certain days. In Christianity, it’s common practice for people to avoid the consumption of meat on Fridays, instead opting for fish instead. But why exactly do people eat fish on Fridays? Let’s explore the tradition and its origins in more detail.

The Origin of Eating Fish on Fridays

According to Catholic tradition, eating meat on Fridays was considered a sin for over 1000 years. This tradition dates back to the early days of the church, when Fridays were viewed as days of penance in honor of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. Meat, which was seen as a luxury food item at the time, was considered to be a symbol of indulgence and excess. Instead, the Church encouraged its members to eat simpler foods like fish and vegetables on Fridays as a form of sacrifice.

Why Fish?

Fish was seen as an acceptable alternative to meat because it was readily available, relatively affordable, and easy to preserve. Additionally, it was a common staple in the diet of many cultures around the world. In fact, the practice of eating fish on Fridays was already a long-standing tradition in many parts of Europe at the time, making it an easy transition for many Catholics.

The Influence of Fasting

In addition to the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays, Catholics were also encouraged to participate in regular periods of fasting throughout the year. This typically involved going without food for a set period of time or limiting one’s intake of food to a certain degree. Fasting was seen as a way to purify the soul and demonstrate one’s devotion to God.

The Practice of Eating Fish on Fridays Today

Today, the practice of eating fish on Fridays is still observed by many Catholics around the world. While the Church no longer strictly requires its members to abstain from meat on Fridays, the tradition remains a popular way for people to show their commitment to their faith.

The Health Benefits of Eating Fish

Aside from its religious significance, there are also many health benefits to eating fish. For example, fish is an excellent source of protein and contains essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for heart health.

In addition, many people find that eating fish is a good way to mix up their diet and try out new recipes. Whether you’re committing to a vegetarian lifestyle or just trying to find new ways to incorporate more fish into your meals, there are plenty of tasty options to choose from.


Overall, the practice of eating fish on Fridays is deeply rooted in Catholic tradition and serves as a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus and the importance of penance and devotion. While the practice may no longer be a strict requirement for Catholics, many people continue to observe the tradition as a way to express their faith and connect with their community.

Most Common Questions Related to Eating Fish on Fridays

  • What is the reason for eating fish on Fridays?
  • Why is meat not allowed on Fridays during Lent?
  • Is it a sin to eat meat on Fridays?
  • What religion doesn’t eat meat on Fridays?
  • Can you eat eggs on Good Friday?
  • Is it okay to eat fish on Ash Wednesday?
  • What are the health benefits of eating fish?

Answers to the Most Common Questions

  • Eating fish on Fridays is a religious tradition that dates back to the early days of the Catholic Church. It was seen as a way to honor the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and exercise penance.
  • During Lent, Catholics are called to fast and abstain from meat on Fridays as a form of penance and sacrifice.
  • It is no longer considered a sin to eat meat on Fridays, but many Catholics continue to observe the tradition as a way to express their faith and devotion.
  • Many religions around the world observe some form of dietary restriction, including abstaining from meat on certain days. In addition to the Catholic Church, several Orthodox Christian denominations also observe meatless Fridays.
  • It is generally acceptable to eat eggs on Good Friday, although some Catholic dioceses may still observe stricter fasting rules.
  • Yes, it is okay to eat fish on Ash Wednesday. Like Fridays during Lent, Ash Wednesday is also considered a day of fasting and abstinence for Catholics.
  • Fish is an excellent source of protein and contains beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that are important for heart health. Eating more fish can also help to diversify your diet and introduce new flavors and cooking methods.


1. “Why Do We Eat Fish on Fridays?” Catholic Digest. https://www.catholicdigest.com/faith/spirituality/why-do-we-eat-fish-on-fridays/

2. “Why Catholics Eat Fish on Friday.” My Catholic Life. https://mycatholic.life/catholic-living/catholic-life/why-catholics-eat-fish-on-friday/

3. “Lenten Regulations and Resources.” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year-and-calendar/lent/lenten-regulations-and-resources

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