Feast Of The Seven Fishes

Celebrate Christmas Eve in the traditional Southern Italian style–with seafood seven ways. Buon Natale!

Pasta With Tuna Sauce

Photo by TTV78

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.

The Seven Fishes
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.

Swordfish a la Siciliana

Photo by cookin’mama

Clams, Oysters, and Mussels

Clams Italiano

Photo by LynnInHK

Calamari, Shrimp, and Lobster

Grilled Shrimp Scampi

Photo by LynnInHK

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

Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Peppers

Photo by Linda (LMT)

Dessert
Dessert can be anything from a simple cake to a staggering display of sweets.

Pizzelles III

Photo by ThatStephanie

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.