Preparing your Christmas Eve menu yet?
If you’re lining up seven or more fish and seafood recipes, you’re probably ready to celebrate the “Italian” Christmas Eve tradition named the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Believe it or not, this holiday feast is actually an Italian-American tradition. In Italy, La Vigilia, or Christmas Eve is celebrated with a partial fast where Italians stick to lighter, meatless dishes like simple pastas, seafood, fish and antipasto-style plates that are served in courses. We can’t mention the Italian holidays without paying homage to baccalà—that dry salted cod is a must in Italy during Natale. Baccalà is a staple feast fish.
From the Italian tradition of a meatless meal, The Feast of the Seven Fishes is born. The Italian-American Christmas Eve dinner is a feast-style meal featuring seven or more seafood preparations served up as courses. These come in the form of soups, pasta dishes, appetizers and entrées. Just as regions of Italy have their own holiday food customs—like Northern Italy’s ricotta-stuffed agnolotti and Veneto’s creamy anchovy sauce—every family has its own set of food traditions when it comes to The Feast.
Thinking about reviving your Christmas Eve lineup? Starting your own Seven Fishes tradition? While the rules are mostly unclear as an unofficial Italian-American tradition, we suggest not getting bogged down by such things. Still, we wanted to give you some tips for hosting your own Feast of the Seven Fishes.
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