The ʻEmber Daysʻ and Tempura!

Today (9/18/13) begins the Michaelmas Embertide. One of the four times a year that the Church calls the ʻEmber Daysʻ or the ʻQuatuor Temporaʻ in Latin

A concise explanation of the ʻEmber Daysʻ Can be found in Theinʻs Ecclesiastical Dictionary: 

They are "the first Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of each of the four seasons of the year, set apart as fast days by the Catholic Church. According to the testimony of Pope Leo, they originated in the time of the Apostles, who were inspired by the Holy Ghost to dedicate each season of the year to God by a few days of penance; or, as it were, to pay three days’ interest, every three months, on the graces received from God. The Church always commanded the Faithful to fast at the beginning of each of the four seasons of the year, because it is at this time that she ordains the priests and other servants of the Church, which even the Apostles did with much prayer and fasting." (Thein, J., 1900. Ecclesiastical Dictionary)

A much deeper look at the Ember Days, including a more detailed look at its historical roots, can be found in a great article by Michael P. Foley called ʻThe Glow of the Ember Daysʻ. You can read it here - 

One of the unique stories , and a favorite of many local Hawaiian Catholics, surrounding the ʻEmber Daysʻ is that of how the ʻEmber Daysʻ led to the creation of the very tasty and very popular food, Shrimp Tempura! Mr. Foley explains it in his article

"In the sixteenth century, when Spanish and Portuguese missionaries settled in Nagasaki, Japan, they sought ways of making tasty meatless meals for Embertide and started deep-frying shrimp. The idea caught on with the Japanese, who applied the process to a number of different sea foods and vegetables. They called this delicious food—have you guessed it yet?—“tempura,” again from Quatuor Tempora. " (M. Foley. Fall 2008 issue of The Latin Mass Magazine, vol. 17:4)

So either today, Friday, or this Saturday, in honor of the Apostolic tradition of the ʻEmber Daysʻ consider including Tempura as the main part of your one full meal! Its  a food with a very Catholic history :)

image via ʻCreative Commonsʻ. Photo by avlxyz