Members of the abc27 news team are sharing their favorite holiday recipes over the next month on Daybreak.
On Friday, Flora Posteraro was in the kitchen making a crab appetizer and pasta with calamari.
Pasta with calamari is one of the dishes Italians eat on Christmas eve. The meal consists of 7 different fish dishes.
- Crab ball appetizer
- Pasta with calamari
- Fried smelts or smelts casserole
- Baccala (Italian for salted cod dish)
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is part of the Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration, although it’s not called by this name in Italy and is not a “feast” in the stricter sense of “holiday,” but a grand meal.
Strictly speaking, Christmas Eve is a vigil or fasting day, and the abundance of seafood reflects the tradition of abstinence from red meat until the actual feast of Christmas Day itself.
Today, it is a meal that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. It originates, however, 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 most famous dish for Southern Italians is Baccalà (salted cod fish). The custom of celebrating with a simple fish such as Baccalà reflects customs in what were historically greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy, as well as seasonal factors. Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.