Most families have Christmas Eve traditions. Some gather and exchange gifts, put milk and cookies out for Santa, go to Midnight Mass and some may first decorate the tree.
One especially tasty Christmas Eve tradition I have been fortunate to share in is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We didn’t know quite what to expect when were invited to share the evening meal with our neighbors, Camille and Tony. Well, we were in for a culinary treat, as we are seafood lovers.
We learned that the Feast had been their family Christmas Eve tradition for generations. They shared the murky history of this tradition but we could barely listen as we started eating. Our senses were overwhelmed as scrumptious courses graced the table; salt cod, an oily fish such as sardines, an octopus salad, langostinos, peas and rice and a seafood pasta you could die for. We also had fried calamari, fish fritters, and lots of wine to wash away the salt from the olives and anchovies.
This was one tradition we hoped to repeat.
Is the Feast of the Seven Fishes a fish tale?
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is part of the Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration.
Where the practice of eating seven different types of fish on Christmas Eve comes from and why the number seven, doesn’t seem to matter.
It may have started in Southern Italy where it is called La Viglia or with Italian Americans. The seven could refer to the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church or that creation occurred in seven days. Some families are known to have even more than seven courses and like all good family traditions, every family does it their own special way.
There are of course, gourmet versions of the Feast. The Tasting Table, a website and newsletter for culinary enthusiasts suggests a Seven Fishes menu like so:
View the recipes here:
What do you do on Christmas Eve if you are Jewish?
For as long as I can remember we always went out for a local Chinese meal and a movie on Christmas Eve. It seemed that is what everyone who was Jewish did. It may have started out that way because it was the only type of restaurant open on Christmas Eve but now it seems that it’s done because it’s fun, it’s delicious- it’s tradition. And it just doesn’t taste as good if you order take out, rent a movie and hang out at home. You have to over order, try new dishes and leave stuffed. Here is an example of dim sum, a bite sized assortment of many types of dishes.
Go with a group and sample it all.
The practice of going out for an authentic Chinese meal for non Christians has spilled into Christmas Day. It has become a festive affair, sometimes in large banguet halls with huge groups of people, a long wait and harried service. Due to the ethnic diversity in the region, New York has 3 Chinatowns in various boroughs; lower Manhattan, Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens. Aren’t we lucky?
For a list of New York’s best Chinese restaurants and Dim Sum, read more: http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/nyc/18543/The_Best_Chinese_and_Dim_Sum_Restaurants_for_Christmas_Day_.htm#ixzz3MP42nxyU
I am sure there are other great traditional and non-traditional ways to enjoy Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Whatever you choose to do, have a wonderful time and share in the comments what your tradition is.