Christmas Traditions – Feast of the Seven Fishes

Christmas Traditions – Feast of the seven Fishes

Christmas traditions certainly vary throughout the world! One tradition, followed by many in the UK as we all know, is the sumptuous Christmas dinner. Usually consisting of a very large Christmas turkey roast, and delicious it is too. This year we thought we would take a look at other countries traditions to celebrate the festive season. We loved reading about the very yummy tradition adopted by many Italian-Americans….

Every year in the United States many Italian-American families celebrate with the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” on Christmas Eve. Their tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve is thought to have emerged from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat until the Christmas Day feast. As no meat or animal fat could be used on such days, observant Catholics would eat fish instead. Whilst called a “feast” it is due to the large abundance of seafood on offer and not, as is usually the case with a traditional Scottish feast, one in which large quantities of food are eaten by each individual.

Scallops in garlic sauce

A typical Feast of the Seven Fishes meal sees a family gathering around a table with seven different seafood dishes on offer. There may not necessarily be seven different types of fish however as two or three different types could be prepared in seven different ways. Some Italian-American families however have been known to celebrate with many more than just seven different seafood dishes, some as many as thirteen!

The number seven is rooted back to ancient times and can be connected to multiple Catholic symbols. According to the Roman Catholic Church, there are seven sacraments, seven days of Creation and seven deadly sins, which is where the reference to seven dishes originates.

Lobster seafood dish

The early 1900s is when, what is now known as the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” became popularised. It is thought that Italian-American families revived the Old Country’s Christmas Eve tradition by preparing a seven-course seafood meal (hence the name of the newly found tradition) so that they could feel close to their homes and celebrate the sea at the same time. Today, it’s considered one of the oldest Italian traditions — but America really has to take the credit for that! Order your Seven Fishes Seafood here!


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