Leigh Hatts  

Ash Wednesday fish


Ash Wednesday cooking in Piazza Lamamora in Ivrea

This morning the people of Ivrea, near Turin, are recovering from spending the last few days throwing oranges at each other.

Ivrea carnival is unusual.

The split and squashed fruit is now lying mushy in the streets which  have a smell reminiscent of marmalade.

But the main square is already hosed down and chefs, still wearing their red Phrygian hat from carnival, are cooking fish and polenta which on this day of fast and abstinence replaces any meat dish.

In Spain tonight a fish features in a putting to bed of carnival ritual. The burial of the sardine is strange custom painted in Madrid around 1810 by Goya.

Although this is the first day of Lent it is not a church holy day of obligation.

But many will go today and emerge with a smudge of ash on the forehead. It is the remnant of ‘sackcloth and ashes’ worn in early days to acknowledge our repentance and unworthiness.

Burial of the Sardine poster

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