Maria Laurino of the NY Times recently published an article on the Italian-American tradition of serving seven fishes during the holiday season (the feast of the seven fishes) and here’s her explanation on on why many Italian-Americans prepare fish on Christmas Eve:
“The significance of seven types of fish has yielded numerous theories, including a correspondence to the number of sacraments in the church, the seven days of creation, the seven virtues of Christian theology, and a reminder of the seven deadly sins. Families have their own interpretations, perhaps based on the region from which their ancestors came; and the number of dishes prepared can vary widely — from 3, representing the number of wise men, to 13, signifying Jesus and the apostles.”
Like Laurino, I easily identify with eating fish during the holiday. Since I can remember, my own Italian born parents/family have prepared the following type of fish on Christmas Eve:
1. Baked shrimppwith breadcrumbs.
2. Bacala (or salt cod) mixed with olive oil, red onion, and parsley.
3. Seafood salad with fresh sconciglio (or scungelli in Italian-American parlance), scallops, shrimp, squid, celery, octopus, and onion.
4. Baked flounder
6. Raw clams
7. Shrimp cocktail
8. Fried calamari (there’s an 8th!)In addition to the fish above, our family prepares fresh zeppoli for Christmas Eve dinner.
There are also a few vegetables that make an appearance (baked broccoli with red pepper flakes, sautéed string beans with garlic, and tossed salad), but they are really afterthoughts as the fish take center stage. Click here for our guide to an Italian Christmas.Laurino’s article reminds me of an important personal finance tip: