Italian Christmas Eve: The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Italian Christmas Eve: The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Merry Christmas Eve, Italians! For many Italian-Americans, this is the best day of the year. Some may argue that it’s better than Christmas day itself. Whether you spend the day with five family members or 50 you are guaranteed to eat well today.

The  feast of the seven fishes is an Italian-American tradition consists of meatless meals and appetizers that include various types of fish. These dishes are typically served buffet style and are made in various forms. Here are some of our favorite traditional dishes that we always look forward to on Christmas Eve:


  1. Baked/Raw Clams – squeeze a little lemon and Tabasco and you will be shoving these down your throat two at a time

adrien-sala-46727-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Adrien Sala on Unsplash

2. Italian Deviled Eggs– The secret ingredient in these bad boys is Italian tuna. The perfect balance between savory and salty.


Photo from Skinny Taste

3. Seafood Salad- Typically served this cold lemony dish contains shrimp, mussels, and fresh calamari with a variety of herbs.


Photo from Serious Eats

3. Fried Calamari – A classic Italian-American appetizer that is enjoyed by many throughout the year. Fried-Snack-Appetizer-Dish-Crispy-Food-Calamari-2186531.jpg

Photo from Max Pixel




  1. “Fish Gravy” – This dish is a spin on your classic marinara. Add in calamari and mussels to your sauce/gravy to make this dish perfect for Christmas Eve. Choose a lighter pasta like spaghetti or linguine to really taste those fishy flavors.


Photo from BBC goodfood


2. Crab Legs – a family favorite and arguably the most traditional component of a Christmas Eve dinner. Keep a nut cracker and a side of butter handy when you dig into these!

marie-france-latour-458412-unsplash.jpgMain Photo by Marie-France Latour on Unsplash


3. Fried Smelts – this small fish can be eaten as an appetizer or thrown over a bed of pasta crispydilis1.jpg

Photo from Kawaling Pinoy






Main Photo by Marie-France Latour on Unsplash

14 thoughts on “Italian Christmas Eve: The Feast of the Seven Fishes

    1. It did all 7. Even though it’s appetizers & dinner it’s still 7 fishes😉
      1-raw clams 2-deviled eggs with TUNA. 3-seafood salad 4-fried calamari 5-fish gravy 6-crab legs 7-fried smelts
      Merry Christmas!!

  1. I love the Bacala, my mom made it like a stew w capers n potatoes and sauce. So good, n I loved the smelts as well. Mangia!!!!

  2. Love these ! My mom cooked most of these growing up (except for the eggs). Like the idea though 😉 Probably a silly question but how do we get the recipe for each of those? I thought I would be able to click on the name and get it but no luck

  3. I have lived in Nutley for over 30 years and am aware of this wonderful tradition. I am not Italian so I don’t get to enjoy all the wonderful food. What I found amazing is no one was able to answer to me the meaning of this tradition. Thank God for GOOGLE. It is a tradition based on the 7 sacraments in the Catholic Church! So to all my Italian neighbors “MANGA”!

    1. The day before Christmas was a day of abstinence, that is, as on Fridays, meat was not allowed. Hence, a celebration of fish!

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