It’s Christmas Eve!
This is my favorite day of the year. It’s our biggest family tradition day of the year and my favorite. The Feast of the Seven Fishes. Our Italian heritage celebrates this feast. My mom was born in Italy and celebrated this feast as far back as she remembers. She continued the celebration all through her years making the feast for our family and my godmother’s family each and every Christmas Eve. It wasn’t unusual to have 20 people around the dinner table passing around the seafood specialties. And there were always left overs to eat the following week. As I am writing this blog, she is making the anchovy sauce and clam sauce, cleaning the smelts, and preparing the calamari, flounder, and tilapia. My godmother will bring the jumbo shrimp and my niece (it was my duty in the past) will prepare the crab appetizer. OOPS, that is eight fishes. You can prepare more than seven dishes but you need to eat seven.
What is the Feast of the Seven Fishes?
The tradition started when Catholics fasted to anticipate the birth of baby Jesus on Christmas Day. The fast would end when they received Holy Communion during Midnight Mass. Fasting as a Catholic meant refraining from eating meat, therefore fish would be consumed typically fried in oil. And it is not known where the seven came from. Most believe it is due to the number 7 being the most repeated number in the Bible. But for most Italians, the main point of the meal is to gather family and friends and enjoy good food and wine.
Since I am not back home in Pennsylvania for Christmas Eve, I will carry on the tradition here with Ray. My anchovy and clam sauces are simmering on the stove. We will start with shrimp cocktail and fried calamari, then feast on smelts, crab cakes, and tilapia. Only 2 people will be at the table but it is our new tradition.
What is your tradition? If you don’t have one, then you should gather the family together and decide what it should be. It is the time of year to spend with family & friends, enjoy good food, and create memories and traditions that last a life time.