On October 26, 1976, the Central Committee of the Communist Party issued a decree on increase of the production and consumption of fish. The major reason for such an innovation was simple – the shortage of meat production.
Fish was also put on the daily ration to fight the deficiency of proteins in people’s systems. The idea about the fish day was first introduced by the Soviet government as early as 1932, when the lamentable results of the collectivization practically reduced cattle-farming and meat production to zero. The concept only survived for two years back then, but the first attempts at Soviet advertising owe their existence to the fish and seafood promotion, as the campaign was supported by slogans like, “It’s high time for you to see how tasty and tender crab meat could be.”
As years went by, the agricultural situation in the Soviet Union didn’t improve, which led to the revival of “Fish Day” in 1976, when it significantly strengthened its position.
The Fish Day officially fell on Thursday. Thursday was said to have been statistically proven as the day when fish consumption would be at its highest. Still, it was a common belief that the Fish Day was imposed on Thursday, since, according to Christian tradition, Wednesday and Friday were the fasting days, when meat was prohibited, so, by excluding meat on Thursdays, the authorities could ensure having three days of fish consumption in a row.
On Thursdays, all public catering places and canteens, plants and factories totally excluded meat from their menus, only serving a rather poor variety of fish dishes. This fact led to utter disappointment among the employees. Though usually of a very poor quality, the canteen’s fish menu was totally inedible. Some ingenious administrations found ways to save the remaining fish leftovers, as they built smoke-houses right by their enterprises, making the smoked fish one of the people’s beloved beer snacks.
Some people disliked, and even openly protested against Fish Day, and though few, there were still convictions as a result of such protests. People mocked the ridiculousness of Fish Day, making up jokes about it, “Once a man decided to order himself a call girl. He was offered a selection of mermaids. ‘I would like a girl with legs,’ he said then. ‘Sorry, it’s Fish Day!’ came the answer.”
Today, many restaurants still offer Fish Days but, obviously, menus have significantly changed and people aren’t forced to consume seafood delicacies, despite improvements in quality.