Feast of the Seven Fishes

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The Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italian : Festa dei sette pesci), also known as The Eve (La Vigilia, cognate to The Vigil), is an Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve with dishes of fish and other seafood. [1] [2]

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Christmas Eve Evening or entire day before Christmas Day

Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus. Christmas Day is observed around the world, and Christmas Eve is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Together, both days are considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and Western society.

Contents

Origins and tradition

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is part of the Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration, although it is not called that in Italy and is not a "feast" in the sense of "holiday," but rather a grand meal. [1] [3] Christmas Eve is a vigil or fasting day, and the abundance of seafood reflects the observance of abstinence from meat until the feast of Christmas Day itself.

Today, the meal typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. The tradition comes from Southern Italy, where it is known simply as The Vigil (La Vigilia). This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale , for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.

Seafood food from the sea, e.g. fish, shrimp, crab, mussel, seaweed

Seafood is any form of sea life regarded as food by humans, prominently including fish and shellfish. Shellfish include various species of molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. Historically, marine mammals such as cetaceans as well as seals have been eaten as food, though that happens to a lesser extent in modern times. Edible sea plants such as some seaweeds and microalgae are widely eaten as sea vegetables around the world, especially in Asia. In North America, although not generally in the United Kingdom, the term "seafood" is extended to fresh water organisms eaten by humans, so all edible aquatic life may be referred to as "seafood". For the sake of completeness, this article is inclusive of all edible aquatic life.

Jesus The central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from eating meat on the eve of a feast day. [1] As no meat or animal fat could be used on such days, observant Catholics would instead eat fish (typically fried in oil).

While the first reference to the feast was seen in 1980s in The New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is unclear when the term "Feast of the Seven Fishes" was popularized. The meal may include seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. However, some Italian-American families have been known to celebrate with nine, eleven or thirteen different seafood dishes. "Seven" fishes as a fixed concept or name is unknown in Italy itself. In some of the oldest Italian American families, there was no count of the number of fish dishes. Dinner began with whiting in lemon, followed by some version of clams or mussels in spaghetti, baccalà and onward to any number of other fish dishes.

The most famous dish for Southern Italians is baccalà (salted cod fish). The custom of celebrating with a simple fish such as baccalà reflects customs in what were historically impoverished regions of Southern Italy, as well as seasonal factors. Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.

Smelt (fish) family of fishes

Smelts are a family of small fish, the Osmeridae, found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, as well as rivers, streams and lakes in Europe, North America and Northeast Asia. They are also known as freshwater smelts or typical smelts to distinguish them from the related Argentinidae, Bathylagidae, and Retropinnidae.

Symbolism

There are many hypotheses for what the number seven represents. Seven is the most repeated number in the Bible and appears over 700 times.[ citation needed ]

Bible Collection of religious texts in Judaism and Christianity

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

One popular theory is the number represents completion, as shown in Genesis 2:2: "By the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." During the feast of the seven fishes, participants celebrate the completion of God's promise of the Messiah through Jesus.[ citation needed ]

Other theories include: that the number represents the seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church; or it represents the Seven hills of Rome that surround the city. [1] [2] It may represent perfection (the traditional Biblical number for divinity is three, and for Earth is four, and the combination of these numbers, seven, represents God on Earth, or Jesus Christ).[ citation needed ]

Typical feast

The meal's components may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, baccalà (dried salt cod), smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams. [2] The menu may also include pasta, vegetables, baked goods and wine.

Cannoli served at the Feast of the Seven Fishes Feast of the Seven Fishes 11 (6517353129).jpg
Cannoli served at the Feast of the Seven Fishes

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Melissa Clark (16 December 2013). "Surf's Up on Christmas Eve. Feasting on Fish to the Seventh Degree". The New York Times . Retrieved 30 December 2013. It's a Southern Italian (and now Italian-American) custom in which a grand meal of at least seven different kinds of seafood is served before midnight Mass The fish part comes from the Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Christmas Eve, while the number may refer to the seven sacraments.
  2. 1 2 3 Craig Claiborne (16 December 1987). "A Seven-Course Feast of Fish". The New York Times . Retrieved 30 December 2013. It is a Christmas Eve ritual handed down from mother to son. Every year, Ed Giobbi, the artist and cookbook author, serves a holiday feast of seven fish dishes (seven for the seven sacraments). Each dish is cooked in a different manner broiled, fried, baked and so on or uses a different main ingredient. There is generally a fish or seafood salad and, inevitably, pasta served with a seafood sauce. ...
  3. Marchetti, Domenica (25 December 2012). "Feast of the Seven Fishes: only in America". American Food Roots. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  4. "Feast of the Seven Fishes". 1 November 2018 via www.imdb.com.
  5. "Oh Shut Up Rose!". Oh Shut Up Rose!. 11 September 2017. Archived from the original on 23 December 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  6. Kagan, Sarah (6 December 2016). "Mario Batali's Feast of the Seven Fishes". Epicurious.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  7. Asaff, Beth. "Why Do Italians Eat Seven Fish on Christmas Eve?". LoveToKnow.com. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  8. "Iron Chef Showdown recap: Italian themed holidays reign supreme". foodsided.com. 7 December 2017.
  9. Claiborne, Craig (16 December 1987). "A Seven-Course Feast of Fish". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  10. "The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 20, 1983 · Page 41". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019.