Today is my day in the Advent Blog Hop! Even though Advent is technically over tonight I had it go till the 25th anyway. Today I am blogging about my favorite Christmas Eve Tradition – The Feast of the Seven Fishes!
Today is my favorite day of the year when it comes to Italian Traditions. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes. For years I never really knew the meaning behind this tradition. I just knew it was something my family did on Christmas Eve and I liked eating all the fish. I don’t know if I knew it was an Italian tradition or the meaning behind it growing up.
Like most traditions sometimes parents and grandparents give kids the “this is what our family has always done” line because honestly sometimes they have NO IDEA how some of the traditions came about.
In the last few years I have become interested in the history of this tradition and recently learned that people used to have to fast on Christmas Eve (similar to Good Friday). They also had to abstain from meat. Hence when the fast was broken in the evening they would have fish. I’m guessing they’d have 7 because they needed a lot of food but the 7 is supposed to represent the 7 Sacraments. I have heard of families that will have 12 fishes for the 12 Apostles.
Interestingly enough at this link there are a lot of different theories on the number of fish. Families will differ on the numbers of fish from 7, 9, 11, and 13. Sometimes I wonder if this tradition is dying out but every year I’ll post about it on twitter or instagram and many others will share that their family is also having fish or I’ll see others using the #7Fishes hashtag posting pictures. So as far as I can see the tradition is still going strong!!
Even though we’re usually only about 5 people or less we still have 7 types of fish and surprisingly enough we do a pretty good job at keeping it manageable with not a lot of leftovers.
This year we had a lot of good seafood including Scallops, Stuffed Shrimp, Stuffed Crab, Mussels, Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Salad, and Baked Fish Fillet. So good. And I am soooo full I’m never going to eat again..okay we all know that is a lie but for real I am so full from all the good food and we still have a lot of food to eat tomorrow as well! I love Christmas!!
I learnt about having to fast on Christmas Eve a couple of years ago when we had a Latin Mass series for Advent. Father talked about fasting and challenged us to as well but didn’t the 7 fishes, he was from New Zealand not Italian so that may have something to do with it. I knew about the 7 fishes but not the why this is interesting.
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Beth Anne says
Thanks! Sorry for not responding sooner your email got stuck in spam! Yeah I found the fasting part of Christmas Eve really interesting and it makes the feast make more sense now.