Seven Fishes: An Italian Christmas Eve Tradition

We are absolutely thrilled to have Gina from Popcorn and Pandas here to share a recap of her family’s amazing Christmas Eve traditions!

Christmas Eve—the most anticipated day of the year in my family.  My Italian family is strong, they are loud, they are proud, they are fun, and they are loving.

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But you do not miss Christmas Eve.  And if you do, you sure as hell better be on your deathbed.  It is no matter that we now live in New York, four hours away from the rest of the family.  We will make that trip down to Maryland and be there for this event.  No questions asked.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian Christmas celebration featuring seven different types of seafood and commemorates the wait, or vigil, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.  The most famous dish that Southern Italians are known for is baccala, or codfish.  Italians today also incorporate many other different types of seafood into their meal.

My family has been celebrating this tradition since before I can even remember.  What started out as a feast at my grandparent’s house for many years has now moved to my aunt and uncle’s due to the need for more space for our ever-growing family!  Christmas Eve is a night my cousins and I look forward to all year long.  It’s a time where everyone is together, we drink fancy cocktails and homemade wine, eat the best meal of the year, exchange gifts, and take our annual family photos.

This year we shared many laughs, special sangria, pesto rockfish, breaded baccala, escargot, clams, mussels, & shrimp.  You may notice that is only six fish.  We realize this, and so this year, we had a huge family vote at the dinner table that resulted in chanting and fist pounding on the table.  I told you my family was loud.  Haha.  I think we officially decided on bacon wrapped scallops to add to the menu next year.  Yum!  In addition to the fish, we also had broccoli, garlic bread, brie, and my grandmother’s amazing corn pudding (that everyone always fights over!)

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Dessert is always homemade cookies with milk or coffee, and then it’s time for the awkward family photos, presents and silliness.  This year was especially exciting because my son was able to stay awake and partake in opening presents.  He was SO excited to unwrap all the gifts, and wanted to play with everything right away…especially the books.  He didn’t understand that we had to continue opening. Haha.

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My cousin, Marisa, of MisaMe Photography is a professional photographer, so we are extremely lucky to snag some amazing family photos every year on Christmas Eve  (as well as other times throughout the year).  We make sure to take one serious photo, and then we let loose on the crazy!  Our crazy family photo is the most anticipated of the year, and we cannot wait to see how it turns out every time.  This year, I have decided to blow up one of our family photos on a canvas from Treat to give as a belated Christmas gift to my grandmother.  I know she will be super excited and surprised to receive it.

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It always saddens me when the holidays are over, and there is not much to look forward to aside from the frigidly cold temperatures of NYC.  Like I said…not much to look forward to.  But it always makes me appreciate the holidays that much more, and I love that it is such a special time of year for my family and me.  I am already looking forward to our celebration in 2015.  What type of holiday traditions do you celebrate in your family?

Hope you all had a lovely holiday season, and wishing you all the best for the New Year.  Buon Natale!

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