Feast of the Seven Fishes

December 22, 2013 at 12:09 PM | Posted in seafood | Leave a comment
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The Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italian: Festa dei sette pesci), also known as The Vigil (Italian: La Vigilia), is a celebration of Christmas Eve with meals of fish and other seafood.

 

 

Fried calamares

Fried calamares

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas celebration. Today, it is a feast that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. However, some Italian-American families have been known to celebrate with nine, eleven or thirteen different seafood dishes. This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. It is unclear when the term “Feast of the Seven Fishes” was popularized.

 

 

 

The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence – in this case, refraining from the consumption of meat or milk products – on Wednesdays, Fridays and (in the Latin Church) Saturdays, as well as during Lent and on the eve of specific holy days. As no meat or butter could be used on such days, observant Catholics would instead eat fish, typically fried in oil.
The meal may include seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is baccalà (salted cod fish). The custom of celebrating with a simple fish such as baccalà is attributed to the greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy. Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.

 

 

 

The meal’s components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, dried salt cod, smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.[2] 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.

 

Skewered whelks

Skewered whelks

Popular dishes:

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
Whiting

 

 

 

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