Muskrat Can Be Eaten for Lent

A long time ago, in the 1780s when French Catholics arrived in Detroit, they found an abundance of muskrats. Muskrat is similar looking to a beaver but without the dam-building properties. It was at this time that the pastor of Ste. Anne Parish in Detroit, Father Gabriel Richard, asked for a special dispensation for the area’s residents to consume muskrats throughout Lent.

This was not the only time the Catholic churches made a special ruling. In fact, they declared that the capybara in South America was actually a fish for the purposes of Lent.

This unique dispensation however centered on Southeast Michigan to encourage the residents to eat the rodent otherwise known as the muskrat.

During the Lenten season, devout Catholics are supposed to abstain from eating meat and have fish at Friday dinners and Lenten holy dinners. To eat something other than fish requires approval from the Catholic Church, which is what happened in this case. So yes, the Catholic Church allows muskrat, but specifically only if you live in this area of Michigan too.

This entire tradition eventually evolved to entire dinners being held celebrating the eating of muskrat. In the 1990s, residents of Flint, Michigan decided to revive the tradition and even make it a fundraiser. This tradition continues today, with people eating muskrat every Lent.

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