Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I want you to return that fish by next Friday.

I went to the supermarket today and saw little signs at the dead animal counter saying, “Fish for Lent.” Now call me crazy, but why would anybody want to borrow a fish from the supermarket? Now generally when people take a fish away from a supermarket it’s for the purpose of eating. You really don’t want people returning fish after it’s been digested. That would be quite unpleasant. And even it is some sort of returnable fish that isn’t for eating, do we really want to be encouraging bad grammar such as, “Here’s the fish you Lent me last week.”

So I googled “Fish for Lent” on the internet to see if I could learn just what was going on here, and I discovered that Lent actually refers to a bizarre Middle-Eastern/European religious practice of not eating much for a month. It seems the practice originated in the good old days when everything was better than it is now, except for the hunger, disease, war, poverty, wife beating and beating in general. It seems that there wasn’t much to eat at the end of winter so to take the edge off their hunger people decided that semi-starvation brought you closer to god. Well, I guess starving to death would definitely bring you closer to the afterlife.

There is another Middle-Eastern custom called Sawm that resembles Lent and is usually known among English speakers as Ramadan after the month it occurs in. Although it happens at a different time, it seems to be much the same sort of thing as Lent. However, one common theme running through Lent and Ramadan seems to be giving stuff up, so I think it would be more appropriate for supermarkets to have an empty shelf with a sign saying, “For Lent,” or “For Ramadan,” rather than trying to use an imported custom that many Australians don’t even understand to sell fish.


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