On Thursday, December 24, 2020 and through PR work by Boomer Productions, GraBar Fish was featured on News12 Long Island for providing Long Islanders a traditional example of the Italian American Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes. Click here to see the GraBar Fish & Seafood featured on News12 Long Island.
With the Covid-10 Pandemic changing so many aspects of our daily life, holding on to certain enjoyable traditions around the holidays offers some consistency people find comforting. One of the most time-honored traditions around Christmas, particularly with Italian American Catholics, is the Feast of Seven Fishes, typically enjoyed on Christmas Eve.
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 that can take over four hours to complete. 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). It was introduced in the United States by Southern Italian immigrants in New York City’s Little Italy in the late 1800s.
With so many local families enjoying this great Christmas Eve tradition there are so many different ways, and fishes, people enjoy it. Having supplied so many restaurants and families over the years with various unique fish and seafood offerings, GraBar suggests the following arrangement as the most popular amongst local Long Island Italian Americans:
- Squid (calamari) – fried and served with lemon or marinara sauce as an antipasti
- Shrimp cocktail
- Crab cakes
- Shrimp – served with polenta in a red sauce
- Sardines in a pasta (pasta con le sarde)
- Baccalla – fried salted cod fish
- Eel – BBQ or capitone
- Seafood Salad – made with shrimp, calamari or octopus and stuffed in escarole
- Octopus (pulpo)
- Lobster baked and stuffed
- Stuffed sole
- Baked stuffed clams
- Crabmeat cocktail
- Crab claws
- Clam sauce over pasta
- Mussels marinara or in a white sauce
- Clams 1/2 shell
- Oysters ½ shell