Fish on Fridays

By Leila Marie Lawler (articles ) | Feb 04, 2008

You don’t have to be a Catholic, no. But the reason people in Wisconsin have this really fun thing to do is because a bunch of people, at one time, were Catholic, and just lived their lives with their families as Catholics, and now there is something that means being from Wisconsin and loving beer and remembering what it’s like to give something up and get something in return, something you weren’t looking for but kind of love – a tradition.

The family in the photo looks sweet and happy (not like they’re in a commercial, just like they are comfortable), and they are having a good time in a nice place, eating food that is probably pretty good. They don’t have to be Catholic, as the headline states – it’s not clear from the story if they are or not.

Some people think that culture is something super refined that you find in a museum, like a big oil painting, and some people think that it’s something you think hard about and get a government grant for, like learning liturgical dance. Actually, culture is the deeply satisfying stuff that “we have always done” – and it comes, unawares, from people either celebrating or, interestingly, not celebrating (like giving up meat on Fridays). If you think I’m wrong spend a minute thinking about what you admire about other cultures.

When things are done the same way for a long time, with families (meaning that somehow everyone from children to old people have to find their place), that’s when you get traditions, and that’s when you get a culture.

Now maybe a fish fry isn’t everyone’s idea of culture, but I’m getting a little wistful reading about this, and proud that Catholics gave this little bit of meaningfulness to the people of Wisconsin (especially because you don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy it), and wondering what our present loophole-finding approach to religion will leave the next generation, in the way of fun.

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  • Posted by: - Feb. 05, 2008 7:18 AM ET USA

    People for the Ethical Treatment of Fish are up in arms over the free publicity given to the "pisces killers" and are joined by the Coalition for Healthy, Fat-free Dining" who abhor the idea of anything being cooked in hot oil. "These people have absolutely no sensitivity to the needs of our water dwelling friends" a member of PETF said. "Especially when they make them swim in HOT OIL" said the president of the CHFD. "The public just doesn't realize this can lead to battered fish syndrome."