Italian Christmas Eve

Thursday, November 14, 2019
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is part of the Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration, in Italy, it's not called a feast but it certainly is pretty much the same and they refer to this name as a "Grand Meal" for their Christmas celebration dinner.


Christmas Eve is a fasting day to any kind of meats, and only seafood is served (actually several kinds of fish is made on this day) as part of the menu.


This Italian Christmas Eve Tradition of no meat continues to stay true to an Italian American seafood feast we serve her in America.


The seafood is part of Catholic abstinence from eating meat until the feast of Christmas Day.


The "Grand Meal" (feast) consists of seven different seafood dishes and traditionally was started in Southern Italy, and known simply as The Vigil (La Vigilia).


This celebration was to wait and welcome the Vigilia di Natale, and the birth of baby Jesus.


The seafood for Roman Catholics typically is fried fish in oil and shellfish that they could afford and was freshly caught.


Among the fish were clams with pasta which we add to Cioppino which is a fish stew, a salted codfish called baccala being the most popular to serve which is a codfish in a tomato sauce or squid, white fish, and several others that were fried.


In some of the oldest Italian American families, there was no count of the number of fish dishes that were served this Christmas Eve night.


Fried smelts and other types of seafood like Calamari fried were introduced into the menu much later through the years on Christmas Eve.


Here is a sample of the most popular ones we make every year.


May you all have a blessed season upon and enjoy the Traditional we set forward to carry on with this Catholic Christmas Eve menu we made through the years.





this is collage of fish recipes










More History



Well, in a nutshell, America takes credit for this 7 fishes tradition after the immigrants settled here.


Around 1861 Regions in Italy joined a single nation the states in the Southern part of Italy suffered for it.


The new government started allocating their resources to the north causing poverty, crime and made things worse.


Approximately 4 million people from those Regions moved to America from 1880 and 1924 which started the feast in American.


The immigrants felt closer to home continuing their fish Christmas Eve dinners and hence the Italian American celebration was started and still continues.


In Italy, each of the 20 Regions has a different culinary tradition on Christmas Eve dinner.


Some families in Rome have a fish-based soup called minestra di pesce, and in Sardegna, they have pasta gnocchi served with sauce.




this is a pot of seafood scampi





Seafood Scampi Pasta





this is a big pot of seafood in tomato sauce called cioppino





Cioppino Fish Stew






this is baked cod fish on a white plate with a bed of spinach





Baked Cod with Roasted Vegetables





this is baked haddock with a zucchini shrimp medley on top





Baked Haddock with Shrimp Zucchini Salsa






Italian escargot made in butter and wine sauce





Butter Crumb Escargot






fried cheese mozzarella and fried provolone





Fried Provolone or Mozzarella






fried calamari with tomato sauce on the side




Fried Calamari






stuffed octopus in a tomato sauce




Stuffed Calamari







Codfish on top of spaghetti




Baccala











Fish Fry










Best Tempura Batter for Shellfish






this is a huge bowl of white chowder with crab legs and assorted shellfish





White or Red Italian Chowder






this is a photo of a strawberry cheesecake







Strawberry Cheesecake or Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe






Italian anisette biscotti cookies




Italian Biscotti






An Italian Panettone bread made with Amaretto




Amaretto Pannetone






Italian pizza called Tomato Pie




Tomato Pie






homemade Italian candy called Torrone




Torrone





24 kinds of cookies on a table





24 Kinds of Favorite Cookie Recipes









1940 old photo of grandma and grandpan




Christmas Eve 7 Fishes The Story





these are roasted chestnuts in Merlot




Merlot Chestnuts









Graham Cracker House










Spinach and Egg Holiday Italian Breakfast







Pin for Later




Pin for later Italian Christmas Eve Menu





Don't Miss Some of My Other Favorite Holiday Roundups






Easter Recipes


Game Day Recipes


Best Holiday Side Dishes


Red White and Blue Recipes


Halloween Roundup


Thanksgiving Recipes


Christmas Recipes






Watch My Quick Video Clip







Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2012. It was edited and re-published in 2019.

9 comments

  1. Hi Claudia, everything look awesome, I especially love the nutella & Ferraro Rocher hot chocolate & Pizzelle.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas to you and all at home. Best Regards.

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  2. A good friend just made me a batch of homemade throne and I couldn't be more delighted! Of course, ate the whole thing already. Happy holidays!

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  3. Claudia, it all looks great, esp. the calamari, pizzelles, and Sambuca! Here's wishing you and yours a great Merry Christmas!

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  4. What a wonderful collection of recipes. I just stopped by to wish you a Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Hugs and Blessings...Mary

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  5. So many delicious ideas here! We make pizzelli every year on Christmas Eve.

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  6. This sounds like such a great idea! Based on how much I love Italian food this might have to be my new tradition.

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  7. Oh, my gosh, what a feast! You may find me at your door on Christmas Eve!! xo

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  8. These all look so amazing, Claudia. I want to be at YOUR house for Christmas eve!!

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  9. They all look incredible!

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