Feast of the Seven Fishes

With Christmas approaching, I would like to share a little about a family tradition that is part of my family's Italian heritage. The Italian/Italian-American tradition called the Feast of the Seven Fishes is celebrated on Christmas Eve. It is known as La Viglia in Italy.[1] La Viglia, means the Eve.[2]

The origins of this tradition are rooted in the Roman Catholic restrictions regarding consumption of meat and meat products around holidays.[3] Therefore, fish was served, various types of fish and shellfish in manner that may reflect regional differences. The only requirement, a minimum total of seven different preparations of fish and/or seafood. Typically, other foods accompany the meal: pastas, salads, bread, etc. You get the idea; we eat like Italians.

Where does the number seven come from? We do not know. Most sources say that it has a connection to the Catholic Church or the bible.[4] Some say Rome's seven hills.[5]

Some of the fish that may be served during Feast of the Seven Fishes, include, but are certainly not limited to: shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels, lobster, cod, scungilli, eel, smelt and scallops. As food preparation examples, I will list some items that have been prepared by my family: fried calamari, calamari salad, steamed clams, clams casino, clams oreganata, linguini with clams, linguini with anchovies, mussels marinara, mussels with white sauce, baccalà salad, baccalà with red sauce and olives, shrimp cocktail, shrimp scampi, scungilli salad, fried eel, fried smelt and baked scallops/scampi. Those are off the top of my head.

What traditions does your Italian family have? Is your family from North or South Italy? Does your family celebrate on Christmas Eve or Day? If you celebrate Feast of the Seven Fishes, I would love to hear what foods your family prepares. Please share your traditions.

To all my followers Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Have a Safe New Year.


#awesofinheritance #FeastoftheSevenFishes #Italian #ItalianAmerican #Christmas


[1] Fraya Berg "What is the Feast of the Seven Fishes?" Food Network (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/feast-of-the-seven-fishes : accessed 21 December 2021), section What is the Feast of the Seven Fishes?, para. 1. [2] Ibid.

[3] Fraya Berg "What is the Feast of the Seven Fishes?" Food Network (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/feast-of-the-seven-fishes : accessed 21 December 2021), section The History of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, para. 1.

[4] Fraya Berg "What is the Feast of the Seven Fishes?" Food Network (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/feast-of-the-seven-fishes : accessed 21 December 2021), section The History of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, para. 1. "Feast of the Seven Fishes," Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Seven_Fishes : accessed 21 December 2021), section Origins and Tradition, para. 6. [5] "Feast of the Seven Fishes," Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Seven_Fishes : accessed 21 December 2021), section Origins and Tradition, para. 6.


85 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All