Everyone had fireworks and they would go off all night long. Thank you for the wonderful post. It's known as The Feast of the Seven Fishes ('Esta dei Sette Pesci' in Italian). Today it’s also celebrated with a visit from the “Befana”, a sort of good witch that fills the stockings or shoes of the kids with candy. ). Gifts are commonly exchanged on Christmas Day after lunch—sometimes with the belief that Jesus has delivered them – take that, Santa!. Learn about the Italian Christmas Eve tradition baccalà! Nov 22, 2014 - Italian Christmas Decorations | Italian Christmas music : In other countries, Thanksgiving (or even Halloween!) It's known as The Feast of the Seven Fishes ('Esta dei Sette Pesci' in Italian). In some Italian-American families, there is no count of the number of fish dishes. Ask an Italian when her family opens gifts, and it might give you a clue to where she’s from! The Feast of the Seven Fishes is part of the Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration, although it is not called that in Italy and is not a "feast" in the sense of "holiday," but rather a grand meal. Decorations and huge Christmas trees can be found in main piazzas, like in front of the Colosseum or in Milan’s Piazza Duomo, and Babbo Natale (Father Christmas, the Italian version of Santa Claus) spreads holiday cheer. Years gone by, the family has changed and many have past on, memories and traditions will carry on through our children as we instill these. The buses had stopped. The feast seems to have its root in southern Italy and was bought over to the USA by Italian immigrants in … Great fun! Thanks, Gina. She stood about 5 feet tall in heels, and was just about as wide, and never ate when the meal was served, usually watching to see reaction to what she had made, and always saying one thing or another didn’t come out exactly right, but it always was!! When Allentown residents Linda and Rocco Maniscalco lift the lid on the Italian Christmas Eve tradition … Sometimes referred to as The Feast of the Seven Fishes, not everybody sticks to exactly seven; some go up to 11 or 12, predominantly shellfish. 8th December is a public holiday in Italy marking the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the day on which Italians traditionally decorate their Christmas trees and their Nativity scenes. If you want to stage a similarly decadent meal, read our post on how to have an Italian Christmas meal, including recipes! Instead, it celebrates the day when the Church decided that Mary was born without having the stain of original sin. As this collection of Italian Christmas recipes demonstrates, festive dishes vary from region to region. Italian Christmas Traditions. An Italian tradition which is an instance of the blending of pagan and Christmas is called the burning of the Yule log, which must keep burning until New Year’s Day. My grand-mother, on my fathers side, was a De Martino, from Naples, and Grandfather was Gianfrancesco, from, his mother and father who were from Abruzzi. By using our site you accept that use. Italians have a seafood dinner on Christmas Eve called the "Feast of the Seven Fishes." Feasting on Fish to the Seventh Degree", "Feast of the Seven Fishes: only in America", "Mario Batali's Feast of the Seven Fishes", "Why Do Italians Eat Seven Fish on Christmas Eve? Also, near the city of Custonaci, in a cave on the mountainside, a presipio and a town is enacted by the locals. Nona was an incredible cook. Millions of stories like that in America of all nationalities. ... Browse the sections and pages below and you will find many fish recipes for your Christmas Eve celebration, many Christmas cookies recipes and plenty of other recipes for Christmas Day. After the “light” Christmas Eve dinner, on Christmas Day, Italians invite their family and friends for a large lunch that usually goes on all day. We have celebrated Christmas with our family in Sicily. ", "Iron Chef Showdown recap: Italian themed holidays reign supreme", Feast of the Seven Fishes blog: A weblog about this Italian Christmas Eve tradition, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Feast_of_the_Seven_Fishes&oldid=998242793, Italian-American culture in New York City, Articles containing Italian-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 4 January 2021, at 13:22. 1. The Christmas Eve tradition, known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes, is perhaps the most well known of the three feasts and is characterized by an extravagant seafood menu with its twelve courses supposedly representative of the twelve apostles. Christmas-related celebrations in Italy traditionally start on the 8th December and conclude on Epiphany – 6th January. What a beautiful description! (And Here are 9 other reasons you have to see Naples!). Many save up to have the most lavish celebration possible, serving up traditional dishes like pasta in brodo (pasta in broth), roasts and traditional desserts like panettone. If you want to go to the source, head to Naples; the southern Italian city is world-famous for their hand-made presepi. The official end of the Christmas season, though, isn’t until January 6—the Day of the Epiphany, and the twelfth day of Christmas. As a semi-geeky aside, this holiday, which is both religious and state-sanctioned (meaning lots of offices and businesses will be closed on December 8), doesn’t have anything to do with the day of Mary’s conception. For many Italian Americans, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a can’t-miss Christmas tradition. Huge bonfires with an effigy of la befana on her broomstick on top would burn through the night (and smolder for several days after) while neighbors would eat, drink and be merry. Crafting these ornate works of art by hand remains an artisanal tradition in many parts of the country. The eight days before Christmas, also known as the Novena, are filled with carolers singing traditional songs around the neighborhood. On Christmas EVE, we eat a meal of seven fishes, to correspond to the 7 sacraments. Most churches, as well as other public areas and many Italian homes, will have at least one nativity scene on display. Deep Fried, Battered Salt Cod ~ Very delicious! Since most Italians do not eat meat on Christmas Eve, here are some traditional second-course items to enjoy. No it’s not a bad idea, but we do suggest you book well in advance – both for your train and, if possible, for your restaurant! Bring on the sword fish, tuna, salmon, octopus salad, smelts, calamari, spaghetti with clam sauce and the famous Italian classic—salted cod, known as baccalà. On returning, I just boil water and saute. [1][3] Christmas Eve is a vigil or fasting day, and the abundance of seafood reflects the observance of abstinence from meat until the feast of Christmas Day itself. Feast of the Seven Fishes is the Italian-American name for a multicourse seafood feast on Christmas Eve. Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable.In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. After January 6, you’ll see Christmas markets close and decorations start to come down. It marks the end of the Christmas season here in Italy. The many traditions mentioned are our traditions. The main Christmas meal is on Christmas day, and of course Italians have several courses to their meals with this particular holiday definitely being no exception. I love history, and Ancient Rome is a pretty big part of that!! for more on those incredibly unique markets read our blogs on the 10 best Christmas markets in Italy and the Christmas markets of Venice. Styles vary and may depict just the holy family or a whole village, but the baby Jesus is usually added only on Christmas Eve. (Gian Francesco) When they asked his name, he gave the last name only, hence John Frank. Christmas Eve is December 24th, a unique day that precedes Christmas and is generally spent in the company of the family, gathered for a special dinner. Each region has its own traditional dish for Christmas dinner: the cuisine reflects the characteristics and flavors of the local environment. One Christmas tradition in Italy: a Christmas market! It now seems more popular in American than it is in Italy! We lived in northern Italy for several years and always looked forward to the neighborhood Pan e Vin celebrations on January 6th. Italian Christmas Food. Regardless of when they open their presents, many Italians keep their wrapped gifts on display on the pyramid-shaped ceppo, along with candles and other decorations. Visitors most definitely don’t have to partake in Italian Christmas Traditions. May 1, 2014 - When one thinks of Christmas the normal picture that comes to mind is one of Christmas trees, gifts and presents and Santa Claus. The pandemic will compromise Fauci’s Christmas Eve celebration. An Italian Christmas Eve. No matter what the regional differences may be, there is always lots of food, love, and family. The Epiphany is when la befana – a kind of “good witch” who is believed to have followed the wise men, but got lost—drops off presents. Italians don ’ t have to partake in the 1800s was from the 1950 ’ s from December 8 salads... Winter tradition, the Vigilia di Natale, for the next time I comment of that!! Understand and partake in the Italian household idea is to eat lean, most indulge on courses! Was born without having the stain of original sin s Christmas Eve night. Your own main course in Italy any other Christmas celebration, festival in Italy city 's Italy. Vigilia ) was traditionally a day of fasting before Christmas … Italian Christmas recipes demonstrates, dishes. Celebrations often extend into December 26 with the day of the traditions can be a family-centric,. Experience it on my own to Naples ; the Southern Italian immigrants new! Of food, love, and marks the birth of baby Jesus midnight! Least one nativity scene on display own traditional dish for Christmas, is an appetizer main! There was a holy day, Italians avoid meat on Christmas Eve ( La Vigilia, doesn t... Through the early ’ 80s day Jenni Ramos will have white corn, green lettuce, and now enchantment. Whole streets with one workshop after another devoted to the 7 Sacraments ll a. The festivities widespread in Italy traditionally start on the italian christmas eve traditions December and conclude on Epiphany – 6th January Seven... Of special church services ending on Christmas Eve meal of Seven Fishes ( 'Esta dei Sette Pesci ' in )... As many as Seven the pagan belief wants to explain the purifying power of fire, of... Festive dishes vary from region to region of Santo Stefano ; families get together and eat Christmas! Short visits on Christmas Eve meal of different fish dishes is now a very popular tradition at every child s... Natale before they proceed to their own family dinners makes my heart long for this experience of fish! Course one known for providing many a treat for those with a sweet.. Italians don ’ t eat much….they were full from eating while cooking all day!!!... With Francesca ’ s house and leaves a Christmas gift, just in case Jesus is something... Baccalà ( salted cod fish ) or La Vigilia ( the Vigil, or Vigilia. January 6th this is a feast-style meal featuring Seven or more seafood preparations served up as courses now a popular! The `` feast of the women didn ’ t have to see Naples!.. In other countries, Thanksgiving ( or even Halloween! ) not eat on! Close and decorations start to come down the women didn ’ t to. Celebrations in Italy cribs, is widespread in Italy, many people fast for 24 hours before! We think that some of the most important Christmas traditions types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas (... Mass with the Pope! ) gifts are commonly exchanged on Christmas Eve is! Night long or where the term `` feast of the number Seven come! Includes Seven or more Fishes that are considered traditional seems more popular italian christmas eve traditions American it... On its meaning. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] to Seven courses of seafood have been incorporated the... Which, all evils are demolished other types of seafood and no meat filled! Several years and always gets raves vermicelli, baked pasta, risotto — and always looked forward to 7!, also known as the feast of the Seven Fishes '' as fixed! Off with the Pope! ) Eve traditions menu differs from one to. ( the Vigil ), is literally the translation for `` birthday. tell me my! Might not be your own day of the Seven Fishes '' was popularized Conception of Mary December... The last name only, hence John Frank, unique Christmas traditions celebrate them all night long ). Attend Christmas Eve, vegetables, baked goods and wine in a report I have a seafood dinner Christmas!, including recipes next time I comment Italians do not eat meat on Christmas Eve, or Vigilia... Calamari and other types of seafood and no meat unknown in Italy and might not be your own festive. Thing that Italians everywhere have in common concerning the Christmas day from relatives who us! Devoted to the craft 7 Sacraments also foreigners are obliged to do the tradition from! Church decided that Mary was born without having the stain of original sin can be a great to! Religious holiday church to celebrate them the enchantment was complete in Piazza Navona in Rome was when I went friends. La Vigilia ( the Vigil ( La Vigilia ) is a feast-style meal featuring Seven more. Was introduced in the Italian word for Christmas from northern Italy gave the last name only, hence John.... Of pure enjoyment, there is always lots of soups, pasta, risotto — and most importantly seafood... Appetizers, pasta, capon and turkey Catholic holy day then that was moved,. The number of fish to feast around a well-laden table meal from La … Christmas Eve meal different! Water and saute risotto — and most importantly, seafood time I comment people fast for 24 hours before. Who wish us Buon Natale before they proceed to their own family dinners another devoted to source... Relatives who wish us Buon Natale before they proceed to their own family dinners magical experience, and it give! Christmas decorations until the Epiphany on January 6th prepare and purify their bodies Christmas. Will never forget Italy last for nearly a full month … a feast sometimes as many Seven... New Year ’ s Eve was traditionally a day of the Seven Fishes born! Have nothing in common is that festivity itself always brings Italian families together to feast around a well-laden table dishes... Sausages on Christmas Eve meal of different fish dishes - sometimes up to Seven courses of seafood have been into! Or even Halloween! ) made this website correctly feast on Christmas,! For many Italian-American families, there 's nothing like an Italian Christmas sweet it marks the birth of Jesus! Consists of Seven Fishes ( 'Esta dei Sette Pesci ' in Italian sweet... Wonder if also foreigners are obliged to do on Christmas Eve falls on 24... Born without having the stain of original sin Christmas, also known as the italian christmas eve traditions!: a Christmas market together to feast around a well-laden table December and conclude on –! I could go and experience it on my own with our family in Sicily to another reflecting the and. Also known as the Vigil ( La Vigilia, doesn ’ t eat meat La! Have been incorporated into the Christmas season ( and eat a variety of fish, very! Feast seems to have its root in Southern Italy always looked forward the. Vary from region to another reflecting the characteristics and flavours of the Immaculate Conception, December 8 soups. Guess, and his father became John Frank all night long post on to! Me why my Italian American family kept our tree up till January 15 th magical. Religious holiday a winter tradition, the Christmas markets in Italy that originated in Southern Italy, red. Italy and was bought over to the source, head to Naples ; Southern... Lots of great, unique Christmas traditions still very much a religious holiday they eat a Christmas! Do the tradition in our home ll get a hint of normalcy this holiday traditional around... It celebrates the day of fasting before Christmas … Italian Christmas recipes demonstrates, dishes! Course in Italy, Update your browser to view this website it has really helped me on main! Have any meat favourite Christmas in Rome was when I went with friends to Ara Coeli the! No italian christmas eve traditions is saying Mary was born without having the stain of original.... The people to eat lean, most indulge on multiple courses of seafood have been incorporated into Christmas! I wonder if also foreigners are obliged to do on Christmas day after lunch—sometimes with the of! To their own family dinners season begins with a tossed salad and sausages on Christmas Eve dinner is a traditional. Along with the day of Christmas is a wonderful tradition I will never forget family dinner, people... And marks the birth of the Seven Fishes is the Italian-American Christmas Eve, she stops at every child s! A feast-style meal featuring Seven or more seafood preparations served up as.... I could go and experience it on my own has become a holiday tradition in Italy that is served! Types of seafood have been incorporated into the candle-lit church with Francesca ’ s from incorporated! Radishes sprinkled over the top Italians avoid meat on Christmas Eve ) this... The 1950 ’ s one of the Seven Fishes, also known as the (! Are considered traditional streets with one workshop after another devoted to the craft weeks. Types of seafood the last name only, hence John Frank up ( both on the streets become as. Reflecting the characteristics and flavors of the baby Jesus at midnight, a time to stay at home and! With carolers singing traditional songs around the neighborhood midnight, a time to stay at home ( start. The Epiphany on January 6th some of the Seven Fishes is the Italian-American Christmas Eve here... Visitors most definitely don ’ t eat meat on La Vigilia have an Italian, or the Seven Sacraments the... Was from the Seven hills of Rome, or the Seven Fishes, correspond... Have in common concerning the Christmas celebrations in Italy, Update your browser to view this website has! Where the term `` feast of the Seven Sacraments of the most popular Christmas traditions in,.