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The Feast of the Seven Fishes, our Christmas Eve tradition

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On Christmas eve we celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes which is an Italian Christmas celebration. The feast typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. The celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. A Sicilian Christmas tradition passed down through my husband’s side of the family. Living with four generations under one roof plus my husband and his family traditions means that most of our holidays are a blend of religion and tradition. My husband is the youngest of 6 children and he grew up with his mom always hosting the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas eve.

The feast of the Seven Fishes our Christmas eve celebration

My husband’s mom & dad

Both of my husband’s parents (shown above) have passed away and since then, many of his brothers and sisters have moved to Florida. I never knew his dad but I did know his mom. His parents came over from Italy with 4 children and one suitcase and arrived by boat in NYC in the 1950′s. Speaking little to no english, they were starting their lives here in America. His mom spoke little english so our conversations were always a little funny :). I remember when I married my husband, he said, it would be nice if we could carry on the Feast of the Seven Fishes for the kids.

The feast of the Seven Fishes our Christmas eve celebration Our Wedding Day

I knew he missed it as well. The holidays are tough when you are missing loved ones. I know the holidays will never be the same for my husband but I was determined to try and carry on the beloved tradition that he grew up with. You see, I grew up protestant and my husband is catholic. I knew little about the tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes and my family knew little as well. Here are my step daughters and my son at 3 months old below.

The feast of the Seven Fishes our Christmas eve celebration

So eight years ago, I researched, gathered recipes and started our own version of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, mixing both religions and traditions. Here is a picture of one of the fish dishes & my mom’s English pudding from last year. Mixing blended traditions can be fun!

The feast of the Seven Fishes our Christmas eve celebration

I grew up with my mom always hosting Christmas eve where she would prepare dinner for our family and extended family. Now, because we all live together, both my mom and I share the holiday. I cook all the fish dishes and she prepares the English traditional dishes from Turkey, Ham and english puddings. From 3pm until about 10pm, we eat, drink and be VERY merry :).

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I remember the first year I hosted the Feast of the Seven Fishes, my family was confused and wasn’t sure what the deal was with so many fish dishes.

feast of the seven fishes our christmas eve celebration

However, the second year they starting asking around Thanksgiving time, “so Jess, are you doing the fishes again?” Eight years later, I am still cooking for days prior to Christmas and the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas eve lives on. My entire family and extended family look forward to this tradition all year long. It’s kind of funny actually :). This week, I will be sharing a couple of our fish recipes with all of you. Who knows, maybe you can start your own blended family Feast of the Seven Fishes tradition!

 

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Responses to The Feast of the Seven Fishes, our Christmas Eve tradition

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  1. Ann December 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    Hi Jessica…I thought I would come over and say hello in person…rather than just on Pinterest! I loved reading this post about your family. My grandparents too came to America from Italy through Ellis Island. Growing up, my Grandma made a fried pastry every Christmas that my Dad and I still make. Traditions are priceless and so important. Wishing your family a beautiful Christmas! ~Ann

    • Jessica Bruno December 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      Hi Ann! I am so glad you came over to say hello :) That is so cool about your gram, you are right, traditions are priceless! Have a great Christmas and I loved your staircase in your recent post. Nicely done :)

  2. Kim @ Sand & Sisal December 18, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Thanks for sharing your family’s traditions with us Jess. What a beautiful family! That fish dish looks so delish by the way!

  3. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication December 22, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    I love that you guys blend your traditions like that! It’s so awesome to have things on Christmas that you’ve always celebrated and sharing them with your spouse and kids. My husband and I have so many great traditions together now, it’s always something to look forward to. :)

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