For Italian households around the world, Christmas Eve is marked by the “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” This is the year to start a “Seven Fishes” tradition of your own with, where ordering the freshest seafood is fast, easy and guaranteed delicious!.

So many folks ask me why Italians celebrate Christmas Eve with the “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” You see, historically, Italians are Roman Catholics who often turned to seafood repasts during meatless fasts leading to a holiday. Since the eve of Christmas is considered a vigilia, or vigil, it only made sense to abstain from meat the night before December 25th. Why do most of us make merry with seven seafood dishes? Well, that’s speculative.

So, what does a visit to an Italian home on Christmas Eve really entail? Well, to truly experience it you should arrive two weeks before and stay the duration (they’ll be glad to put you up). In my home, it all begins with ordering the fish at This, in Bensonhurst, anyway, requires a bit of Italian mathematics. “Let’s see, we’re having ten people for dinner, unless Compare Joe and his wife – I never liked her – come, then it’s twelve. I guess we’d better order twenty pounds of each fish!”

The marathon begins on December 23rd with the cutting, rinsing, dicing and slicing of the fresh whiting, baccala (salt cod), shrimp, clams, mussels, sole…you name it. All of it ends up in the following day’s fried, broiled, stewed or sauced creations. Some things can be prepared ahead. “I always like my octopus and baccala salads to marinate at least 24 hours,” Mom says.

When the sun dawns on December 24th, we are already in the kitchen. Some fish can be cooked earlier and then warmed before the guests arrive. The baccala stew is a good candidate for this. Others must be prepared right before the guests arrive. We can’t have soggy fried calamari, can we? And so it goes. All day long, preparing and laughing and sampling. I feel this is the best part of the day. The actual cooking, together.

At six that evening, the guests appear with lots of cannoli, panetoni and vino in hand. Together, we embark on a five-hour seafood odyssey. It’s the same every year. It’s tradition. It’s joy.

There’s plenty of time to order your “Feast of the Seven Fishes” selection from By the way, you don’t have to make it seven. Some nice shrimp, calamari, langoustine and octopus is a great way to start for beginners. In fact, is featuring a luscious recipe for Octopus Salad this week. Check it out. It’s a must for Christmas Eve!

Victor Ribaudo
Food Marketer/Writer
The Ribaudo Group