Can you eat meat in Holy Saturday?

Quick Answer

Yes, it is permitted to eat meat on Holy Saturday in the Catholic tradition. Holy Saturday is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It concludes the Triduum, the three days of solemn remembrance of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During Lent, Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays as a form of fasting and penance. However, Holy Saturday is not part of Lent proper, so the Lenten prohibition on eating meat does not apply.

When is Holy Saturday?

Holy Saturday is the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday. It is the last day of Holy Week and concludes the Easter Triduum. In 2023, the date of Holy Saturday is April 8th.

The Easter Triduum begins on the evening of Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. It continues through Good Friday with the veneration of the cross and concludes on Holy Saturday, as Christians await the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

Why do Catholics abstain from meat during Lent?

During the season of Lent, which lasts for 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays as a form of fasting and penance. This tradition commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry.

By abstaining from meat on Fridays, Catholics identify with Christ’s suffering and sacrifice on the cross on Good Friday. Skipping meat is a small sacrifice that reminds Catholics to be mindful of Christ’s larger sacrifice for humankind’s salvation.

Purpose of Fasting during Lent

Fasting during Lent has several religious and spiritual purposes:

  • Perform penance and self-denial
  • Unite with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice
  • Deepen love for God
  • Express sorrow for sins
  • Heighten awareness of dependence on God

By sacrificing something small like meat on Fridays, Catholics hope to turn their hearts more towards prayer, charity and loving God and neighbor.

Who Must Abstain from Meat

All Catholics ages 14 and older are required to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent. The requirement to abstain from meat applies to all mammals and fowl, but not to fish and shellfish.

Those with health conditions requiring meat are exempt, but are asked to perform another sacrifice or act of penance if possible.

Is Holy Saturday Part of Lent?

Even though Holy Saturday concludes the 40 days of Lent, it is no longer part of the Lenten season itself. Lent officially ends on Holy Thursday, right before the Triduum begins. As the US Conference of Catholic Bishops states, “The Lenten season ends on Holy Thursday before the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.”

Therefore, the prohibition on eating meat does not apply to Holy Saturday. The Church does not consider Holy Saturday part of Lent for fasting and abstinence purposes.

Holy Week Timeline

  • Palm Sunday – Final Sunday of Lent, Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem
  • Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper in evening, Lent ends
  • Good Friday – Day of fasting and abstinence, veneration of cross
  • Holy Saturday – Not part of Lent, Easter vigil after sundown
  • Easter Sunday – Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus

So Holy Saturday is distinct from the Lenten observance. It marks the end of Holy Week, anticipation of Easter, and bridge from the crucifixion on Good Friday to the joy of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Liturgical Celebrations on Holy Saturday

Even though fasting and abstinence rules are relaxed on Holy Saturday, it remains a solemn day of preparation and transition focused on Jesus’s death and upcoming resurrection.

Some key liturgical celebrations on Holy Saturday include:

  • Morning Prayer – Also called the Office of Readings. Commemorates Jesus’s burial.
  • Blessing of Easter Food – Food for the Easter feast is blessed.
  • Easter Vigil Mass – Mass held Saturday evening, starting after sundown. Celebrates the glory of Jesus’s resurrection.

So Holy Saturday liturgy remembers Christ’s passion and death while looking forward in hope and anticipation to His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Holy Saturday Traditions

In addition to the liturgical celebrations, some cultural Holy Saturday traditions include:

  • Decorating Easter eggs as symbol of new life
  • Preparing the Easter basket with eggs, lamb cake, ham, bread, horseradish
  • Blessing the food for Easter feast
  • Lighting the Easter fire and Paschal candle at Easter Vigil Mass
  • Adorning statues and sacred images covered during Passiontide

These traditions help set the festive tone in anticipation of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

Is Fasting Required on Holy Saturday?

Fasting is not required on Holy Saturday, since it falls outside the 40 days of Lent:

  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting.
  • Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence from meat.
  • Holy Saturday has no fasting or abstinence requirement.

However, some faithful still choose to fast or abstain from meat on Holy Saturday as an additional personal sacrifice. This is a voluntary personal devotion, not an obligatory requirement.

Holy Saturday Fasting Guide

Fasting Abstinence
Not required Not required
Optional personal devotion Optional personal devotion
Encouraged: Prayer and spiritual preparation for Easter Encouraged: Prayer and spiritual preparation for Easter

So while fasting and abstinence are not obligatory on Holy Saturday, prayer, spiritual reflection, and charitable works are encouraged as the faithful await the joy of Easter Sunday.

When Does the Easter Feast Begin?

The Easter feast celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection begins during the evening of Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil Mass. The vigil Mass is held after sundown, which is the official transition from Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday.

At the start of the Easter Vigil, a new fire is blessed and the Paschal candle is lit from it. This represents the light of the Risen Christ coming into the world. The Exsultet or Easter Proclamation is sung, telling the story of salvation. Baptisms and confirmations for new Christians entering the Church often occur.

So the Easter feast begins Saturday evening with the vigil, followed by festive celebration on Easter Sunday. Feasting traditionally involves special foods prepared for Easter such as bread, eggs, lamb, and ham. The prohibition on meat no longer applies.

On Easter Sunday, churches are adorned with beautiful flowers and decorations to celebrate Jesus’ triumph over death and resurrection.

Sequence of Easter Vigil Mass

  1. Lighting of Easter Fire and Candle
  2. Exsultet Easter Proclamation
  3. Liturgy of the Word – Bible readings
  4. Baptism and Confirmation of new Catholics
  5. Liturgy of the Eucharist

The Easter Vigil beautifully marks the transition from sorrow to joy, darkness to light, death to new life in Christ.

What is Appropriate to Eat for the Easter Feast?

After the austerity of Lent, Easter is celebrated with great feasting and joy. Some traditional Easter foods include:

  • Bread – Represents Jesus as the Bread of Life
  • Lamb – Symbol of Christ as the Paschal Lamb
  • Eggs – New life and resurrection
  • Cheese – From milk products allowed again after Lent
  • Ham – From newly allowed meat
  • Asparagus – First spring vegetable
  • Hot Cross Buns – With Lenten cross now empty of Jesus

Easter meals around the world feature special breads, meats, desserts, and dishes unique to various cultures. However, eggs, lamb, and bread are nearly universal Easter feast foods.

After 40 days of fasting, meat, eggs, milk, and cheese are back on the menu for Easter rejoicing!

Easter Feast Ideas

  • Baked ham with pineapple glaze
  • Roasted leg of lamb with rosemary
  • Asparagus quiche or frittata
  • Hot cross buns
  • Sweet bread wreath with dyed Easter eggs
  • Carrot cake, vanilla cake, or chocolate cake
  • Pecan pie, cheesecake, or carrot cake

Get creative and celebrate Our Lord’s Resurrection with a menu of traditional and favorite Easter foods.


In conclusion, Holy Saturday is a transitional solemn day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. While Lenten fasting and abstinence are no longer required, many still opt to spend Holy Saturday fasting or abstaining as an added devotion. However, there is no Church prohibition on eating meat or feasting on Holy Saturday. The Easter feast celebrating Christ’s Resurrection begins after sundown on Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil Mass. The 50 days following Easter Sunday are an Easter season of rejoicing, feasting and thanksgiving to continue commemorating this central mystery of our faith.

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