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Festa Dei Sette Pesci – An Italian-American Tradition

Hello Planetary Pals,

Over the Christmas break I was lucky enough to be able to travel back home for the first time in months. It was good to see family and the dog again, and I was able to relax and read a bunch of books. This week’s blog post is inspired by similar ones posted by Leah in the past. This week I will be talking about the big Italian-American Christmas Eve traditions.

For Catholic Italians, Christmas Eve is the big feast day, instead of Christmas Day. It is sometimes called the “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” Essentially, the day before major feast days is considered a day of fasting where Catholics should obtain from eating meats. In classic Catholic fashion, fish are not considered meat. There are seven seafood items as part of the feast to represent the seven sacraments, although quite often more than seven are served. My grandmother spends days in advance preparing for the feast, cooking and prepping.

I’ve made a list of most of the food from this past Christmas, although I wish I’d grabbed real photos instead of pulling images from online.

The evening starts off with shrimp, and clams casino served first.

Next, wine is served, usually my grandfather’s homemade basement wine. As well, a pasta dish gets served, usually linguini with clams or crab sauce.

After this course, a whole bunch of different plates are passed around. At this point you’re already full, but of course you keep eating because you’re only halfway there! A favorite in our household is smelt, which is eaten whole, head and bones and all. There was skate, lobster, and calamari salad (tentacles and all).

As far as vegetables, this year we had broccoli, zucchini fritters, rapi, and cardoons. As someone who doesnt eat seafood, this is what I always will end up having a full plate of.

After this comes dessert which is usually coffee, fruits, chestnuts (which are almost always moldy/rotten), Italian cookies, and my mother’s famous cannoli cake.

After that, we exchange gifts, go to midnight mass, and then pass out from eating too much. It’s a great tradition, even if you’re someone like me who doesn’t eat seafood. I don’t know how familiar others are with the traditions, but it’s rather dissimilar to the standard American Christmas celebrations in my opinion. Let me know if you’ve heard of this tradition and how it is similar/different to yours!


Published by Anthony Dicecca

Hello and welcome to my blog. I am Anthony Dicecca, and I am currently pursuing a thesis-based Masters degree in Geology with a Specialization in Planetary Science and Exploration. I am a native of Rochester, New York but moved to London, Ontario to attend the University of Western Ontario. From 2016 to 2020 I worked to complete my undergraduate degree, finishing with a BSc in Physics and a BSc in Geology. During this time I developed a passion for geology, and in particular, planetary science. I've had the pleasure of working with Dr. Gordon Osinski and his team during this time aiding in research ranging from Arctic peri-glaciology to global impact cratering, and from Lunar spectroscopy to Martian mapping. In Autumn 2020 I continued my education at the U.W.O., working towards a MSc in Geology with a Specialization in Planetary Science and Exploration. My research will likely involve insights obtained from the Holuhraun Lava Field in Iceland and their applications to other bodies in the Solar System. This blog serves as an archive of my progression over the next few semesters.

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