August 09, 2011

Jesus Likes Codfish, Satan Likes Haddock

I just spent some time on Cape Cod, and came back curious about the cod and codfish folklore.

Cape Cod got its name back in 1602 when the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold noticed lots of cod in the water near a large sandy peninsula. Voila! Cape Cod. He also saw lots of herring and mackerels, so Massachusetts could have wound up with a Cape Herring or Cape Mackerel. I guess Gosnold like the alliterative sound of Cape Cod instead.

Most people in Massachusetts know that a wooden cod hangs in the state's House of Representatives chamber on Beacon Hill. It's called the Sacred Cod, and is perhaps the only sacred thing in the State House. The Sacred Cod has hung in the State House since the 18th century, and symbolizes the important role this once plentiful fish used to play in the local economy.

In The Yankee Cook Book (1939), Imogene Wolcott relates another story about why the cod is sacred.

She claims that when Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes to feed the multitudes, he did so using a codfish. The light colored markings found on the cod today are the impressions left by Jesus's fingers and thumb.

Note the white stripe caused by Jesus's touch

Of course, Satan was hanging out nearby, and when he saw Jesus perform the miracle he laughed evilly. "Ha!", he said. "You think you're so great? I can do the same thing."

Satan reached into the sea and grabbed a haddock. The fish wriggled free of Satan's hellishly hot hands, but not without damage. The black stripes found on the side of haddock today are actually burn marks caused by Satan's fingers so long ago.

Note the black stripe caused by the touch of Satan!

Cod prefer deep cold water, and are found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. I don't think they're found in the Sea of Galilee, so this story is probably not gospel truth. If you want to avoid the theological dilemma caused by having to choose cod or haddock for dinner, just go vegetarian!


bairdduvessa said...

my high school nickname was "satan" and i prefer that works out great.

Peter Muise said...

Too funny!