Czech Easter - Lenten Fasting
Contributed by Petr Chudoba

"And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry." (Matthew 4:2 NKJV)

The Czech Republic is predominately Roman Catholic, and the people therefore generally follow the current Catholic guidelines for fasting.

The law of abstinence obliges those 14 years of age and older not to eat meat. The law of fast obliges all those from ages 18 through 59 to refrain from eating between meals and to limit their eating to one full meal for the day. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to one's needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both fast and abstinence.

People may be excused from fasting and abstinence duties for medical reasons and special dietary needs. Those who have permission from the Holy See to eat meat on prohibited days, may avail themselves of this concession at their full meal, not only on days of abstinence but also on fasting days. When age, sickness or labor releases Christians from fasting, they are at liberty to eat meat as often as they are justified in taking food, provided the use of meat is allowed by a general Indult of their bishop (Sacred Penitentiaria, 16 Jan., 1834). Finally, the Holy See has repeatedly declared that the use of lard allowed by Indult includes butter or the fat of any animal.

In earlier times, the fast in the Czech lands was much more strict than it is now. Meat, cheese and eggs weren't eaten, nor was milk drunk or butter or fat spread on bread. Vegetable oil was used instead. Alcohol wasn't drunk and tobacco was neither smoked nor taken as snuff. Only one meal a day was eaten, and this was of fruit and vegetables. The fast was later softened - various soups were eaten, such as bean, lentil, cabbage, sour and caraway. Aside from soups, other simple meatless foods were served, like scones, millet mash, dumplings with damson-cheese, potatoes with milk, or just bread with sauerkraut.