This is the season of Lent where some Catholics give up their favorite foods as well as not eating meat on Fridays.This practice actually goes back to the Middle Ages when meat was scarce and people had to find a way of stretching food. As the centuries progressed giving up foods became a standard for the season. Lent ends with Easter, a time when there are spring banquets and parties.
Since Lent (which is derived from the German word lenct meaning to fast) is really a time of fasting, many people go on a kind of mini fast, that is giving up some food that they really love. Most skip cake and bread for forty days. Others forgo candy . It's a good way to lose weight however once the period ends, there's usually a feeding frenzy at the local bakery or in some poor unsuspecting kid's Easter basket. Myself, I usually give up intolerance or impatience which make for very high blood pressure until Easter morning
Another dictate that some Catholics (including myself) adhere to is not eating meat on Fridays (some like the Greek Orthodox also eschew meat on Wednesdays too). These are the days when we become reacquainted with Manhattan clam chowder and fish sticks. It's not as drastic as giving up a favorite cookie or snack. It's a way of showing respect to the Church. Years ago we were not allowed to eat meat on any Friday throughout the year. However in the last almost fifty years the Vatican has more or less relaxed the rule s and we can eat meat on this day.
Lent means a lot of thing to a lot of people. For most it's soul searching and looking to do good for one's fellow man and community. For others it's just giving up something they love. For foodies it;'s giving up a slice of Italian bread or a pastry until Easter.