Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes (Festa dei sette pesci), also known as The Eve (La Vigilia, cognate to The Vigil), is an Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve with dishes of fish and other seafood.wikipedia
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Christmas Eve

December 2424 DecemberEve of Nativity
The Feast of the Seven Fishes (Festa dei sette pesci), also known as The Eve (La Vigilia, cognate to The Vigil), is an Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve with dishes of fish and other seafood. 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.
While other Christian families throughout the world celebrate the Christmas Eve meal with various meats, Italians (especially Sicilians) celebrate the traditional Catholic "Feast of the Seven Fishes" which was historically served after a 24-hour fasting period.

Italian Americans

ItalianItalian-AmericanItalians
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.
Many still celebrate the Christmas season with a Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Christmas traditions

ChristmasChristmas holidaysother European traditions
The tradition comes from Southern Italy, where it is known simply as The Vigil (La Vigilia). This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.
The dinner traditionally consists of seafood, with the Feast of the Seven Fishes, followed by typical Italian Christmas sweets, such as pandoro, panettone, torrone, panforte, struffoli, caggionetti, Monte Bianco or others, depending on the regional cuisine.

Dried and salted cod

salt codbaccalàsaltfish
The most famous dish for Southern Italians is baccalà (salted cod fish). The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.
Salt cod is part of many European celebrations of the Christmas Vigil, in particular the southern Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Italian-American cuisine

Italian-AmericanItalian restaurantItalian
Italian-American cuisine
Alici or Acciughe – another integral dish served during Christmas Eve's Feast of the Seven Fishes. This dish's full name is Spaghetti con aglio, olio e acciughe (spaghetti with garlic, oil, and anchovies; alici is another word for anchovy). The anchovies and garlic are sliced very thin and dissolve in the oil. When served, the dish appears to be just pasta covered in hot oil. (Many variants exist in Italy: some don't have anchovies, some add capers or chili pepper)

List of dining events

List of dining events
Feast of the Seven Fishes – an Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve with meals of fish and other seafood.

Iron Chef Showdown

Iron Chef Showdown had the feast of the seven fishes as a secret ingredient

Seafood

seafood productssea foodfood fish
Today, the meal typically consists of seven different seafood dishes.

Jesus

ChristJesus ChristJesus of Nazareth
The tradition comes from Southern Italy, where it is known simply as The Vigil (La Vigilia). This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.

Fasting and abstinence in the Catholic Church

fastingfastfasting and abstinence
The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from eating meat on the eve of a feast day.

Smelt (fish)

smeltsmeltsJapanese smelt
Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years. The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

Squid as food

calamarisquidcalamares
Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.

Bible

biblicalScripturethe Bible
Seven is the most repeated number in the Bible and appears over 700 times.

Book of Genesis

GenesisGen.Gen
One popular theory is the number represents completion, as shown in Genesis 2:2: "By the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."

Messiah

messianicmessianic figurePromised Messiah
During the feast of the seven fishes, participants celebrate the completion of God's promise of the Messiah through Jesus.

Catholic Church

CatholicRoman CatholicRoman Catholicism
The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from eating meat on the eve of a feast day. Other theories include: that the number represents the seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church; or it represents the Seven hills of Rome that surround the city.

Seven hills of Rome

seven hillshills of RomeRome
Other theories include: that the number represents the seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church; or it represents the Seven hills of Rome that surround the city.

Numerology

numerologicalnumerologistunlucky number
It may represent 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).

Anchovy

anchoviesanchovieAnchoviella commersonii
The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

Merlangius

whitingAtlantic whitingmerling
The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

Lobster

lobstersclawed lobstersNephropidae
The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

Sardine

pilchardsardinespilchards
The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

Cod

codfishcod fishcod fishing
The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

Eel

eelselveranguilliform
The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

Squid

squidsIkateuthid
The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.