The Feast of the Seven Fishes (festa de sette pesci) is a uniquely Italian tradition from Southern Italy, celebrated on Christmas Eve (also known as “the vigil” or “La Vigilia”). Although some parts of Italy do not celebrate the feast, it is believed to be an authentically Italian tradition going back to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from the consumption of meat or milk products on Fridays and specified holy days. In the stead of meat, Catholics ate fish, typically fried in oil. Other seafood has been incorporated into the celebration as well.
So why seven fish? The story is debatable. Some say it has to do with the number of sacraments celebrated in the Catholic church, while others say that it has everything to do with the Biblical meaning of the number seven representing perfection. No matter what the story…that’s a whole lotta’ seafood, so there’s bound to be a whole lotta’ family and friends and fun.
Popular dishes include: Baccala (salt cod), codfish in tomato sauce, octopus salad, calamari, whiting. shrimp, and many more. See allrecipes.com for menu tips for the Feast of the Seven Fishes