An Italian tradition or should we give the Unites States credit for that?
At Christmas, I always love to hear how my clients will spend their Christmas Eve (la Vigilia di Natale) and Christmas day (il giorno di Natale). I have many Italian American students who often talk to me about the feast of the Seven fishes on the night of Christmas Eve. But is this really an Italian tradition or should we give the Unites States credit for that?
Typically, Italian Americans gather for a huge dinner on December 24th preparing a seven-course seafood meal celebrating their connection to Italy. The origin of this tradition can be traced back to southern Italy although the origin is still uncertain. Once arrived in the United States, Italian immigrants, who were homesick for the land they left behind, prepared seafood meals to make them feel closer to their homes.
There are a few different theories on why there are seven fishes: maybe the seven days for God to create the Earth, the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic church, and so on, whereas fish comes from the Roman Catholic practice of not eating dairy or meat on the eve of some holidays.
Despite its popularity among Americans, many Italians do not even know about the tradition. Surprised? The answer can be found in the biodiversity of Italy: the country boasts so many differences between the North and South. I come from the North so in my family Lasagna is the typical dish together with cotechino (Italian pork dish) and lentils but Tortellini in broth is also another traditional course… and Panettone or Pandoro of course!!
And you? What are you going to eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas day?
Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!