NEW ORLEANS — Here in New Orleans, after the big party day, Mardi Gras, we start the Lenten season. 

During this time frame is when Catholics specifically on Friday's refrain from eating meat. 

Why Friday? 

Leaders in the Catholic Church say it's one way Catholics show respect for the passion and death of Jesus. 

For much of the Church's history meat has been associated with feasts and celebrations. In most ancient cultures meat was considered a delicacy, and to "celebrate" the death of Jesus didn't seem right.

RELATED: Lenten fish fries 2019

When this started is a bit unclear, but it led the Church to recognize every Friday during lent as a 'Good Friday.'

However, there are have been exceptions to the rule. 

Some bishops have allowed Catholics to eat meat when St. Patrick's Day falls on Friday since it's considering ceremonious for many Irish Catholics. 

According to the United States Conference of Bishops, meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs --- all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. 

That's why many Catholics replace meat with fish, a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.

Here in New Orleans, the fish fry mostly took off in the 1920s and 1930s, when pubs were unable to sell beer during Prohibition. Fried fish dinners were seen as a very profitable source of new income with many Germanic Catholics. 

RELATED: Demand high despite slow start to crawfish season

The fish fry has since expanded across the nation and is most prominent in areas where Catholicism, and to some extent, people of German descent, still reside. 

"Our churches often use fish fries not only as a means to provide the meatless meal but also to build fellowship and invite the community to experience the parish family, so all are welcome to come join us, not just at the Eucharistic table of the Lord on Sundays, but at the cafeteria table of fellowship on Fridays," said New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond. 

The Lenten season is based on the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. However, the season is actually 46 days. If you don't count the Sundays in lent, you're left with 40 days.

RELATED: Friday fish fry helps ex-convicts get back on their feet