Fasting on Wednesdays
- In the time of Christ's Incarnation, practitioners of the Old Testament religion fasted or abstained on Mondays and Thursdays, but Christians opted to take Wednesdays (the day Our Lord was betrayed ["Spy Wednesday"]) and Fridays (the day Our Lord was crucified) as their penitential days.
- Wednesdays and Fridays are still days of penance in most Eastern Catholic Churches (and among the Orthodox), but in the Roman Church, only Fridays, as memorials to the day our Lord was crucified, remain as weekly penitential days on which abstinence from meat and other forms of penance are expected as the norm.
- In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, Ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week — specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday — roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that were formerly set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days are known in Latin as the quattuor anni tempora (the "four seasons of the year"), or formerly as the jejunia quattuor temporum ("fasts of the four seasons").
In some of the Eastern rites, the faithful abstain from meat on both Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. They also abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year, whereas Catholics in the United States are not obliged to do so.