Think of a Christmas spread, and imagery of roast duck, chicken, turkey come to mind, along with the season’s must-have desserts for the ones with a sweet tooth! And yes, how could we forget the mulled wine?!
But did you know there’s a Christmas tradition in a certain part of the world centred entirely around a seafood meal?
It is called the Feast of Seven Fishes.
Curious? Read on.
What is it?
The Feast of Seven Fishes (also called The Eve or La Vigilia) is a Christmas Eve meal comprising seven courses/types of seafood. This Christmas Eve feast does not have any meat-only seafood and vegetables.
The Feast of Seven Fishes is rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence from meat and dairy products before holidays, including Christmas. Followers believed in eating lean to purify the body before a holiday.
It originated in Southern Italy (with its vast coastline dotted with fishing villages). This region has traditionally been poorer, hence seafood’s been the affordable staple.
This tradition was made popular in the Americas by Italian immigrants.
Why Italians chose seven fishes for the most important and festive meal of the year?
The number seven is one of significance in Catholic symbolism. Seven has been mentioned more than 700 times in the Bible. There are seven sacraments and seven were the days of the Creation. Hence, what better number than seven?!
Yet Seven is Not Written in Stone!
If you thought a seven-course Seafood meal for Christmas is a bit much, think again! Seafood connoisseurs go the whole hog and expand the spread the nine (and sometimes, eleven) seafood dishes!
Do Something Different!
Planning to put together an unforgettable Christmas eve meal? And do away with the usual?
Get inspired by the Feast of Seven Fishes.