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
The meal’s components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, dried salt cod, smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams. The menu may also include pastas, vegetables, baked or fried kale patties, baked goods and homemade wine. This tradition remains very popular to this day.
- Baccalà (salt cod) with pasta, as a salad or fried
- Baked cod
- Cod fish balls in tomato sauce
- Deep fried cod
- Deep fried fish/shrimp
- Deep fried scallops
- Dolphinfish (Baked or Fried)
- Fried smelts
- Insalata di mare (seafood salad)
- Linguine with anchovy, clam, lobster, tuna, or crab sauce
- Marinated or fried eel
- Octopus salad
- Oyster shooters
- Scungilli salad
- Stuffed calamari in tomato sauce
- Stuffed-baked lobsters
- Stuffed-baked quahogs
many more. See allrecipes.com for menu tips for the Feast of the Seven Fishes