Christmas is a very important time in an any Italian or Italian American family. If you grew up with a strong sense of faith then Christmas is about more than just gifts and entertaining. With every family, I think traditions vary. As Italian Americans we come from different regions of Italy or maybe many of us come from Southern Italy or Sicily. Either way, we've evolved our Italian traditions to match the American traditions of Christmas. Christmas is Christmas, unlike Thanksgiving, this is a holiday celebrated by Catholics all around the world. Even celebrated by non-Catholics. Through the years, our traditions in celebrating Christmas have always remained true to our Italian heritage, but I will say and I am not sure anyone else can agree or chime in on this, but our family does not do the traditional seven fishes.
Now, if you go to Italy on Christmas eve, and visit with someone-- yes, there might be a fish dish, but no one does the seven fishes. I think the seven fishes evolved here in the states and had more emphasis because aunts, grandmothers were trying to preserve the old traditional Italian ways of celebration. Either way, you can enjoy the seven fishes or have what we have, which is usually Lasagna, pizza, or anything bready. My family comes from a town in Italy that sits right on the Mediterranean, so fish is no stranger to us, but yet its the last thing we eat on Christmas Eve. Its such a strange thing for me to compare what other generations of Italian Americans do for the holidays or what they think is traditional because for me its always been a close connection of tradition, so I am always amazed at the lengths that many Italian Americans go to --to keep their culture and old traditions alive in Christmas. Its actually very beautiful. Feel free to share your Christmas traditions here on our post!
Great post today in the NY Times: