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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

Christianity and Food

Christianity and Food Christians in early modern Europe were encouraged to eat in moderation, abstain from food at certain times in emulation of Christ’s self-denial, and share food with the less fortunate.

The calendar of Church-prescribed fasting required Christians to abstain from meat and animal products on most Wednesdays and Fridays as well as Lent (the forty days before Easter), Advent (traditionally from the Sunday closest to the Feast of St Andrew, 30 November, until Christmas), and dozens of holy days.

Accounting for 40% of the year, these fast days defined the rhythms of daily life. Just as the seasons and harvests waxed and waned, so too did the year swing between the restraint of fasting and the celebration of feasting, between the debauchery of Carnival and the austerity of Lent that followed.

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