Christmas Eve, “La Viglia di Natale,” The Feast Of the Seven Fishes. For those of you that don't know why we Italians celebrate Christmas Eve with a huge fish dinner, I'll give you a quick little lesson. The early Christians in Italy believed that the day was so sacred, celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So they would honor this day by abstaining from meat. For those that don't know, Christians also use the fish to signify peace. Why seven? Well, there are several explanations. There are seven sacraments, seven sins, and of course, the most memorable for me, it took seven days for God to create the earth. There are so many more that I've heard through the years, but we could be here all day. When I was growing up my mom always prepared the traditional fish diner for Christmas Eve. Unfortunately for my mom, most of my siblings didn't even like fish. So she always had to make other meatless dishes on that day to keep everyone happy. Lucky for us that she kept the tradition going, since we've all grown to love it now and look forward to this special meal.
It has always been a wish of mine to have my mom, sister, my kids, and myself busy in the kitchen preparing holiday diners together. When I watch this scene play back I can't help but be overjoyed to see us all together sharing family traditions, passing our customs down from one generation to the next.
I must have inherited the love for spicy food from my Uncle Giacinto. I think that he and I are the only ones that can handle his hot mussels marinara. I'm glad to see that he hasn't altered his recipe to make everyone else happy. There are some recipes that just have to remain intact. Just give me some bread and I'll be happy to soak up all that spicy goodness.