Seafood sales in the United States rise perceptibly during Lent. Many restaurants see a jump in fish orders on Fridays and holy days during this period. Some accommodate the increased demand by adding extra seafood options to their menus, while others maintain the usual number of seafood dishes, but order more fish and shellfish from their suppliers, anticipating that orders will be up.
Lent, the Christian season of penance and introspection leading up to Easter Sunday, begins on Ash Wednesday. In most Catholic cultures, Lent is a season of ritual fasting and the preceding few days were considered a time to use up all the rich, fatty foods in the larder before they became forbidden. The Tuesday night preceding Lent, known – depending on where you are – as Mardis Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”), Shrove Tuesday (“to shrive” means to confess one’s sins), or Carnival (theoretically derived from “carne vale,” Late Latin for “farewell to flesh”) was the culmination of a period of feasting and festivities.