Carp as a Christmas Favorite

The fish is an age-old symbol of Christianity. The Greek word for fish –I-CH-TH-Y-S– contains letters standing for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior and is therefore seen as a profession of faith. In the early days of Christianity, the ICHTHYS symbol became an identifying and often secret sign on the doors and homes of Christians.

It’s therefore no surprise that in many regions of Germany, especially in the south, carp is served on Christmas. As a symbol for water, renewal, life and fertility, there’s hardly a better choice for the Christmas feast. The carp quickly became a typical Christmas dish for wealthy families. As Advent is a time of fasting, the carp was a special meal for Christmas Eve, as it is hearty but not meat.

In the Middle Ages, monks and nuns created extensive fish ponds in order to breed carp. These allowed variety in the menu during Lent and on other fasting days. In this time, many fish ponds and farms were created in Franconia. The “Aischgründer Carp” is particularly famous and is a regional specialty in Franconia. The carp are prepared with heads and fins attached, coated in flour and deep fried, so that even the fins are crispy and edible.