Christmas Eve Seven Fishes Meal

Some Italians have a traditional meal of seven kinds of fish on Christmas Eve. Does anyone know the significance of this. For example, a traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of 12 courses (One for each of the disciples). Why seven kinds of fish?

No, it’s just that we were so poor, mom had to think of seven ways of preparing tunafish! :wink:

“Teaching without words and work without doing are understood by very few.”
-Tao Te Ching

From memory, there are some ancient mosaics that show seven fish on the table for the Last Supper.

I’ll try to look this up at home tonight.

It’s likely a reference to the loaves and fishes miracle, where there a lot of 7’s and 5’s related in different accounts.

I don’t know the answer to the OP, all I know is that I have to suffer thru this 7 fishes thing every Christmas Eve. My husband family is VERY Italian and his mom cooks the traditional dinner every Christmas. Neither my husband or I eat any seafood at all and every year she is surprised and asks us why we don’t eat the fish.

It’s been 7 years now and I still explain that we don’t eat anything out of the water, you would think that would cover it, but no, then she will continue by asking, “you don’t eat shrimp?” No, I don’t eat ANYTHING out of the water. “You don’t eat clams??”, No, I don’t eat anything out of the water…ad nauseum- literally.

Anyway, it is pretty funny, and I love the woman and all, but one of these days…

You don’t eat anything that comes out of the water?

Ok Mom, I mean TomnDeb…let me clarify (it’s good practice since the night in question is almost here)…I don’t eat anything that lives under the water. Is that better? Because I’m obviously not getting my point across with my mother-in-law either!

I don’t know about the seven kinds of fishes tradition, but I do know that in the Roman Catholic Church, the day before Christmas used to be a day of abstinence (from red meat). So, like a Friday in Lent, it was a fish-meal day. (It’s not a day of abstinence any more.)

Why fish and not just pasta? I dunno. But I can guess that the miraculous multiplication of the fish in the gospels makes it a good Christian food. I also heard that the RCC pushed the idea of fish on people becuase it was helpful at one point for the fishing industry.


I’m on the verge of killing my beast of an Italian mother-in-law right now.

It’s a good thing she doesn’t pull this fish shit on Christmas Eve or her day would be tomorrow :slight_smile: