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Celebrate Christmas Eve Italian-Style with the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Bring everyone together on Christmas Eve in the traditional Southern Italian style—with a feast of seafood done seven different ways. Buon Natale!

Swordfish a la Siciliana

Swordfish a la Siciliana  | Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

Try this recipe: Swordfish a la Siciliana

La Viglia di Natale

On December 24, Italian families all over the world gather together for La Viglia di Natale—the Christmas vigil—where fish is on the menu instead of meat. Also called The Feast of the Seven Fishes, the ritual of La Viglia has been handed down from generation to generation over the centuries.

Why seven fishes? The number seven is thought to stand for the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. With its roots in religious observance, La Viglia customarily ends by attending midnight mass.

Seven Fishes, Seven Dishes

La Viglia's favored dishes may vary from family to family, but you will likely find an array of seafood that includes the freshest catch of the day as well as clams, oysters, mussels, squid, shrimp, and lobster.

Chef John's Spaghetti al Tonno

You can make this quick and easy pasta dish with pantry ingredients you probably have on hand. Watch the video to see how it comes together.

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Clams, Oysters, and Mussels

Be sure to have plenty of crusty bread on hand to sop up the flavorful clam broth.

Clams Italiano


Clams Italiano

Clams Italiano | Photo by LynnInHK

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Shrimp, Calamari, and Lobster

Simple Garlic Shrimp

You can control the heat on this super-easy shrimp dish by dialing back the red pepper flakes, if you wish.


Simple Garlic Shrimp

Simple Garlic Shrimp | Photo by catherine.drew

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Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Peppers

Vegetables such as broccoli rabe and kale often round out the meal.

Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Peppers

Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Peppers | Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

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Tiramisu II

Dessert can be anything from a simple cake to a staggering display of sweets. To get guaranteed oohs and aahs, bring a traditional tiramisu to the table.


Tiramisu II

Tiramisu II | Photo by Connie Ding

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• Get tips for buying and cooking shellfish and fresh fish.

• Catch all our seafood recipes.

• Discover authentic Italian recipes.

• Enjoy the 12 cakes of Christmas. Which one will you make first?


Vanessa Greaves

About Vanessa Greaves

Good food, friends, and fun are always on the menu. Find me as foodelicious on Allrecipes and vanny.gee on Instagram (but only if you don't mind cat pics and cocktails).