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The term collation originates in the Roman Catholic Church, where it refers to the two small meals allowed on days of fasting, with or without abstinence. Traditionally, the reading in Benedictine monasteries of excerpts from Collationes patrum in scetica eremo, written by John Cassian, was followed by a light meal. In modern Italian, the two small meals are the prima colazione (breakfast) and seconda colazione (lunch). The word "colazione" itself in the general language now means "breakfast" (whereas the English "break their fast" for breakfast; lunch is pranzo in Italian).
The French court of Louis XIV used the term collation to refer to light meals in general. In British English today, a collation is likewise a light meal, offered to guests when there is insufficient time for fuller entertainment. It is often rendered cold collation in reference to the usual lack of hot or cooked food. The Polish word kolacja ("supper") is a derivation.
- "Lent", Catholic Encyclopedia
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