Traditional Italian Christmas Eve Dinner

This is the first time in years that we won’t be having a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner. That type of dinner is often called The Feast of The Seven Fishes. In my family we make many seafood entrees and eat for hours. It takes a lot of time to prepare the food but it is worth it.

All of the food we prepare is cooked by hand. We buy fish from a local fish market, clean it and cook it. This process takes about two days. When I was a young teenager, I remember cleaning 10 pounds of shrimp! There’s lots of other seafood that needs to be cleaned well too.

The traditional Italian Christmas Eve diner has been shared with our extended family and friends since I was a child. When I moved out on my own, I missed one year being with my family but I still had a smaller version of this meal. However, because of my mother’s recent surgeries, my husband Shawn’s illness and my exhaustion, we have decided to only have a prepared shrimp platter from Publix and I’ll make linguine with clam sauce. I also bought some fish spread, something totally new for us to eat at this time of year.

At first I was saddened by not preparing our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, but I’ve decided to focus on being able to spend the time with my family. Yes, the food will be much different this year, but the spirit of Christmas will still be the same as when I was a child.

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Connie Roberts

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Living in the Tampa Bay area, I'm lucky enough to see beautiful sunsets almost every day. Although life can be difficult at times, focusing on the positive and being with my family is what gets me through.

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  1. Growing up a friend of the family owned a local Italian restaurant. They closed their restaurant for business and had friends and family over for Christmas Eve dinner every year. It was an amazing and wonderful thing, a ton of food, and a lot of good memories.

  2. I am sorry you wont have your normal Christmas dinner, but the family time will be amazing! We are not having the normal dinner either. I asked the hubs what he wanted and figured he would say a roast. NOPE he wants my Tamale Casserole.. So I got the fiixins for it. We will be mucnhing on hotwings during the day too.
    Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  3. Hi, I’m a first time visitor and I had to pop in when I saw the heading as my parents are Italian. I don’t believe we’ve ever had a Christmas Eve dinner that you’ve described, but Christmas day has always been a big family get together.

    I do know, as I can always hear my mum in the back of my mind, saying how we shouldn’t eat meat on Xmas Eve which is why we opt for fish, but I would much prefer pasta.

  4. I, too, am sorry to hear about your family health issues, and I also wanted to say how unique! Seafood… I would never have thought of that (and didn’t, read this too late unfortunately). We went with ham, but I get bored doing the same old same old each year. I will have to keep this post in mind for next year. And here’s hoping you all find excellent health in the coming year!

  5. Loretta, so you got to experience the great Christmas Eve seafood dinner? Did you try anything unusual?

  6. Lisa, I guess it’s easier for us when we don’t have to prepare a large meal for the holidays.

  7. Hi Sire, thanks for visiting. I believe that one of the reasons for the fish dinner had to do with not eating meat on Christmas Eve so people could attend Mass and receive communion. There’s more to the Seven Fishes though. Pasta is always a part of our holiday meals!

  8. Thanks so much Diane for the well wishes. It may be unique to you to eat seafood on Christmas Eve but it’s a huge tradition for Italian families. I hope that you take part next year. Maybe I’ll write a few posts about what I prepare so you can get some ideas for your meal.

  9. Did you guys ever eat Baccalà? That’s one dish I could never stomach.

    As for pasta, if I don’t get it at least once a week I would be freaking out. Just as a holiday meal would not be acceptable 😀


  1. […] surprised us by having an Italian Christmas Eve Dinner. It was special to be able to sit together and have a meal that is a tradition in my family.  We […]