Saturday, December 3, 2022

What is the Italian La Vigilia? The Feast of the Seven Fishes celebrated Christmas Eve

The history is believed to have originated in Southern Italy but nobody knows for sure. Today, it is an Italian-American feast that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. Some Italian American families have been known to celebrate with 9, 11 or 13 different seafood dishes. This celebration is a commemoration of the wait, Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of baby Jesus.

The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence in this case, refraining consumption of meat or milk products—on Fridays and specific holy days. , Catholics would eat fish.
There are many questions as to why "7" relates to, one being the number of Sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. Another theory is that seven is a number representing perfection: the traditional Biblical number for divinity is three, and for Earth is four, and the combination of these numbers, seven, represents God on Earth, or Jesus Christ.
Although the feast is referred to as the "Feast of the Seven Fishes", there could be seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. The most dishes Southern Italians are known for is baccalĂ  (salted cod fish), Fried smelts, calamari, and other types of seafood eaten for Christmas Eve dinner over the years.

  • Stuffed calamari in tomato sauce
  • Stuffed-baked lobsters
  • Smelts
  • Dried salted cod
  • eels
  • Squid
  • Mussels
  • Clams
  • Scungilli salad
  • Deep fried calamari
  • Deep fried cod
  • BaccalĂ 
  • Cod fish balls in tomato sauce
  • Crab stuffed mushrooms
  • Stuffed-baked quahogs
  • Deep fried fish/shrimp
  • Deep fried scallops
  • Fried smelts
  • Insalata di mare (seafood salad)
  • Kale patties (baked or fried)
  • Linguine with anchovy, clam, lobster, or tuna sauce
  • Marinated eel
  • Octopus salad
  • Oysters

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