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Holiday traditions of different cultures add a special element to the festive season. One notable holiday tradition is “The Feast of Seven Fishes.” Whether you are a long-time follower of this tradition or just discovering it, this updated post will offer insights into its history, cultural significance, and provide you with inspiring menu ideas and recipe suggestions.

History of the Feast of Seven Fishes:

The Feast of Seven Fishes is a cherished Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition, deeply rooted in Southern Italian culture where it's known as “La Vigilia” (meaning “Eve” in Italian). This grand seven-course meal, abundant in seafood, symbolizes the observance of the traditional abstention from meat until Christmas Day. 

Significance: 

While the Feast of Seven Fishes is not strictly a religious event, it carries profound symbolic meanings. These symbols range from representing the seven days of creation and the seven virtues, to the seven deadly sins and the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Additionally, this feast is a celebration of Italy’s rich seafood heritage, reserving meat consumption for Christmas Day festivities.

Guidelines:

Held on Christmas Eve, this celebration typically includes a seven-course meal. Although the menu is adaptable, common inclusions are five seafood-based dishes, a palate cleanser, and a dessert. The primary objective is to incorporate seven different types of fish and shellfish throughout the evening. While the dishes can vary, popular choices often include a salad, pasta, and a hearty stew.

By understanding the history and significance of The Feast of Seven Fishes, and following these guidelines, you can create an unforgettable Christmas Eve experience that honors this timeless tradition while enjoying the company of your loved ones.

  1. Plan ahead of time and order your seafood by December 18th (your items will ship 12/19 for arrival by 12/22) so you will be well-stocked on Christmas Eve. 
  2. Adjust portions to create “tasting” sized dishes.
  3. Plan two or three room temperature dishes to reduce the amount of cooking required.
  4. Simplify dessert and support a local brand, such as Fran’s Chocolates and Gelatimo Gelato, or your local bakery.

Below is a common format to follow to structure your feast and recipe suggestions to accompany each course. 

First Course: Snacks to Start

  1. Crab Cake Poppers
  2. Baked Brie Bites with Dungeness Crab 

Second Course: Salad

  1. Classic Cobb Salad with Spot Prawns
  2. Smoked Salmon Salad

Third Course: Something Grilled, Seared, and Hearty

  1. Holiday Halibut 
  2. PNW Grilled Salmon

Fourth Course: Pasta

  1. Snow Crab Pasta with Lemon Butter Sauce
  2. Creamy Salmon Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Garlic Sauce

Fifth Course: Hearty Stew

  1. Crab and Corn Chowder 
  2. Simple Salmon Chowder

Sixth Course: The Palate Cleanser

  1. Orange Sorbet
  2. Sicilian Lemon Frost

Seventh Course: Dessert

  1. Local chocolates
  2. Gelato

Feel free to mix and match recipes as you wish. For even more recipes, check out the Premier Catch Recipe Blog. If you celebrate this and have suggestions or photos, please send them our way! 

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