Ash Wednesday: Why we traditionally eat fish on that day

by Mike

Eating fish on Ash Wednesday is a tradition in Germany. Restaurants and even politicians invite people to eat it. We explain where this food tradition on the first day of Lent comes from.

Aschermittwoch: Why eating fish on this day is so popular

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent in Christianity. It lasts 40 days and ends on Easter. Why fish is eaten on Ash Wednesday is mainly for religious reasons, because:

  • Meat is forbidden during Christian Lent because it was crucified in the form of Jesus Christ. Whereas everything that lives under water is allowed.
  • However, eating fish was not allowed at first either. This only changed over time after it was accepted as a fasting food.
  • This also led, for example, to a few fasters unceremoniously declaring all living creatures in water, including ducks or geese, to be fish.
  • The fish also has a symbolic function in the Christian faith, because in the early days of Christianity it was the identifying sign of Christians. In this respect, eating a fish heralds this holy time.


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