5 Fascinating Facts About Lenten Traditions You Might Not Know

What are you doing for Lent?

In this classic episode of “The Catholic Talk Show,” Ryan Scheel, Ryan Dellacrosse, and Father Rich Pagano discuss Lenten traditions, trivia, and perhaps a few surprises that you might not know!

“I’m sure you are looking forward to Lent, not mainly for those feast days, but to truly put on the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving,” Father Pagano says.

1) Fat Tuesday Feasting

Ever wonder why Fat Tuesday is the ultimate “cheat day” before a Lent filled with king cake, paczki, and pancakes?

“It’s the day we eat all the good stuff, historically to use up the fats and sugars before the Lenten fast,” Scheel says.

Now, it’s a day of indulgence, preparing us for the penitential season ahead.

2) Ashes from the Past

Those ashes marking foreheads with a visible sign of our faith? They’re not just any ashes.

“These ashes are burnt palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday,” Father Pagano explains.

He says this tradition links two significant moments in the liturgical calendar, from celebration to penance. 

3) Lenten Fasting Rules

What’s off the menu for Catholics during Lent? It’s not just meat on all Fridays; there’s more to the story.

“On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, it’s about fasting and abstinence – one full meal and two smaller meals with no meat,” Scheel says.

4) The Filet-O-Fish Tale

Believe it or not, the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish has Catholic roots!

Scheel explains it was invented in 1962 “by a McDonald’s franchise owner in Ohio to cater to the Catholic population abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent.”

5) A Beer-Only Fast?

Originally undertaken by Paulaner monks in the 1600s, this extreme Lenten practice involved consuming nothing but beer!

“This beer was so malty and nutritious. It was like liquid bread, yet low in alcohol. It sustained them through Lent,” Scheel says.

So if you find yourself feasting on a Filet-O-Fish on a Friday, don’t forget what Father Pagano says Lent is all about!

“This is what boils down to who we truly are: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We remember our mortality and we remember the capacity of our humanity for greatness and our communion with Christ who is actively redeeming us in the celebration of our faith.”

Watch the full episode below:

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