This article, written by Domenick Rafter, appears on Queens Tribune.
Feast Of Seven Fishes: A Look At The Popular Italian-American Christmas Tradition
It’s a classic Italian tradition that still reigns over large family gatherings on Dec. 24th every year, even after several generations have brought Italian-Americans more into assimilation.
While it shouldn’t be surprising in a country surrounded on three sides by water, the tradition, called festa de bette peschi in Italian, is more of an Italian-American tradition than an Italian one.
Back in Italy, the tradition was only observed in several southern provinces like Apulia – home of the city of Bari, where Barese Italian-Americans come from, Calabria, where Calabrese come from, and Campania, home to Naples, where Napolitan Italian-Americans come from.
The tradition stems from the common Catholic tradition of refraining from meat or dairy on the evening before a major religious holiday. Seafood is often the main dish for fasting days. Though the Catholic church doesn’t consider Christmas Eve to be a day to fast, like Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, it is still tradition for some to do so as Christmas Day, the birthday of Jesus Christ, is one of the church’s highest holy days. Read more at Queens Tribune.
Visit Spacca to download a Feast of Seven Fishes digital cookbook, which includes 11 delicious recipes from Mario Batali and Food52.