Ash Wednesday officially marks the start of the period of Lent in the church calendar, and that means a great deal for practicing members of Christian and related faiths. This introspective period in the religion's yearly cycle, which stretches to early April, is a multi-week reflection into one's individual actions leading up to the Easter holiday.
The celebration, which has been heralded as an integral part of the faith for thousands of years, has undergone a few changes throughout its existence but has largely remained at its core the same since its inception. During Lent, and particularly on the holy days within it such as Ash Wednesday, practitioners abstain from eating meat.
But, does that tradition also apply to byproducts of the animals whose meat we so often consume, such as eggs? Here's a breakdown of what you actually can and can't eat during Lent.
Eggs and other related animal byproducts are still allowed to be consumed during Lent.
Although the holiday strictly forbids practicing members from consuming lamb, chicken, beef, pork, ham, deer, and most other meat products on its holy days, specifically Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, those observing can luckily still divulge in the aforementioned creature's byproducts without breaking any religious rules.
That means that despite the fact that chicken wings and burgers are a no-go, eggs, all dairy products, and assorted other elements that don't directly pertain to eating the flesh of an animal are totally OK to eat.
Beyond that, the church does also allow practicing members to consume all types of seafood during these special days, and fish dishes are actually a common fixture amongst religious devotees eating as prescribed by the Bible.
The rules surrounding animal product consumption during Lent have changed over the years.
The religion's rules surrounding meat consumption during the Lent holiday have shifted like the religion as a whole has since its inception thousands of years ago. According to The New York Times, the foods one could eat and the ways in which they had to eat them during times as far back as the fifth century were much more strict than they are for practicing Christians today.
Back then, only one meal a day was allowed, and observing members tended to take that during the evening. The meal had to be devoid of flesh meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, a major shift from the more lax tendencies of modern Christianity. Beyond that, only water was allowed to accompany meals, another rule that has since fully dissolved.
By the ninth century, the rule regarding consuming fish was changed to allow it, given the fish's high powerful presence in terms of Christianity as a whole. Beyond that, the rules regarding the consumption of animal byproducts were largely changed as well, creating a more modern example of the Lent that followers still abide by to this day.