Good Friday is one of the most important days on the Christian calendar. It commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. This event is central to the Christian faith, as Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice represents the atonement for the sins of humanity. On Good Friday, Christians observe a solemn day of mourning for the death of Jesus.
Part of the Good Friday tradition involves fasting and abstaining from meat. This raises questions around whether it is permitted to eat chicken on Good Friday or if chicken is classified as a type of meat that should be avoided.
What is Good Friday?
Good Friday is a significant religious holiday observed by Christians around the world. It falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday, typically in late March or early April. In 2023, Good Friday will be on April 7.
On Good Friday, Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a solemn day of mourning and repentance as believers reflect on Christ’s suffering and sacrifice leading up to his resurrection on Easter.
Significance of Good Friday
Good Friday holds deep spiritual meaning for Christians. It represents Jesus’ passion and willingness to die on the cross for the sins of humanity. Many churches hold prayer services on this day with emphasis on the stations of the cross, depicting Christ’s final hours.
Good Friday is not a federal holiday in the U.S. but is observed by many denominations of Christianity worldwide, including Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and some Protestant churches.
Good Friday Fasting and Abstinence
Fasting and abstaining from meat are common practices associated with Good Friday for many Christians. Let’s examine what this means:
Fasting on Good Friday
Fasting involves limiting food intake to one full meal and two smaller meals that equal less than a full meal. Snacks in between meals are to be avoided. The purpose is to intentionally experience hunger in solidarity with Christ’s suffering.
Abstaining from Meat
Many Christians abstain from eating meat of warm-blooded animals, including beef, pork, and poultry on Good Friday. This includes avoiding chicken. Seafood such as fish and shellfish are permitted.
Abstaining from meat reminds believers of the significance of Christ’s death and his sacrifice. Meat was considered a luxury and celebratory food in ancient times, making it unsuitable for the solemnity of Good Friday.
Who Must Abstain from Meat on Good Friday?
The obligation to abstain from meat on Good Friday applies to Catholics between the ages of 14 and 60. Exceptions are made for health reasons. Orthodox Christians are also expected to avoid meat.
Other Christian denominations may choose to abstain from meat as well, but it is not considered compulsory. Many believers opt to forgo meat on Good Friday as a matter of personal devotion.
Why Avoid Chicken on Good Friday?
Chicken is considered a meat and seen as inappropriate fare for Good Friday meals by many Christians. Here are some reasons why:
Chicken Symbolizes Celebration
As mentioned earlier, meat signified festivity and celebration in ancient cultures. Eating chicken on the solemn remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion can be seen as inappropriate within this context.
Form of Sacrifice
Abstaining from desirable, flavorful meats like chicken is a form of sacrifice echoing Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. This temporary deprivation is a way for believers to identify with his suffering.
Reminder of Christ’s Pain
Avoiding chicken and meat redirects focus to Jesus’ excruciating pain on the cross. The hunger pangs experienced on Good Friday serve as a poignant reminder of Christ’s agony.
Show of Respect
For some Christians, abstaining from chicken on Good Friday is a sign of respect and acknowledgment of the significance of Christ’s passion and death.
Alternatives to Chicken During Lent
Many believers choose non-meat protein options as alternatives leading up to and during Lent. Here are some popular choices:
Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood such as salmon, shrimp, tuna, and cod are permitted. They are considered lighter, healthier meat alternatives.
Eggs and Dairy
Foods like eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese also provide protein. Many denominations allow dairy products during Lent and on Good Friday.
Legumes and Tofu
Beans, lentils, peas, and tofu are excellent plant-based protein sources to substitute chicken.
Veggies and Grains
Filling up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, pasta, bread, rice, and potatoes can minimize cravings for meat and poultry.
People get creative with vegetarian and vegan recipes like eggplant parmesan, stuffed peppers, pasta primavera, bean soups, tofu stir frys, and veggie sandwiches.
Good Friday FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about foods and practices on Good Friday:
What Foods Are Allowed on Good Friday?
Permitted foods include fish, seafood, produce, dairy, eggs, legumes, tofu, grains, pasta, veggie dishes, etc. Meat and chicken are to be avoided.
Why Don’t Christians Eat Meat on Good Friday?
Abstaining from meat serves as a form of sacrifice and reminder of Christ’s suffering. Meat signified celebration which seems inappropriate on this solemn occasion.
Is Chicken Considered Meat on Good Friday?
Yes, chicken is classified as a meat and not eaten by many Christians in observance of Good Friday.
Is Eating Chicken on Good Friday a Sin?
Most denominations do not classify it as a sin but see abstaining from chicken and meat as an important tradition. It may be deemed disrespectful by some believers.
What Else Should You Avoid on Good Friday?
Many devotees also refrain from shopping, parties, loud music, alcohol etc. to maintain the day’s solemnity.
Do You Have to Fast on Good Friday?
Fasting is not compulsory but commonly practiced. Some fast until 3pm when Christ died and others do a partial fast, restricting meat, fats, juices, etc.
The Final Take
Deciding whether or not to eat chicken on Good Friday is a matter of personal choice and religious guidance. Many view abstaining from meat as an impactful way to align with Christ’s suffering and honor his sacrifice.
However, individuals are encouraged to prayerfully reflect on Good Friday’s significance and celebrate in ways they deem respectful. The sincere desire to commemorate Christ’s passion is what matters most.
As you move through Lent and approach Good Friday this year, focus on thanking God for his tremendous, sacrificial love.