As millions of Italians immigrated to the United States during the 1800s-1900s, they brought their culture, cuisine, and customs with them. They also created some new customs, including the Feast Of The Seven Fishes.
Why The Popularity Of The Feast Of The Seven Fishes Has Grown So Much Over The Years
Originally only observed by Italian-American families during Christmas Eve dinner, the Feast of the Seven Fishes has increased in popularity and slowly moved beyond just Italian households. But why? Why are people from all different cultures choosing to celebrate this Italian-American tradition?
Here are all the reasons why the popularity of The Feast Of The Seven Fishes has grown so much over the years.
Adds Variety And Distinction Between Christmas Dinner And Christmas Eve Dinner
For many families, Christmas is actually two big planned meals, Christmas Dinner and Christmas Eve dinner.
Many Americans serve roast beef or ham for Christmas Night dinner. Some even serve another large Thanksgiving-style turkey again. So mixing things up with a fish-themed meal for Christmas Eve Dinner, is a fun way to add variety.
Fun Culinary Challenge For The Whole Family
Trying to prepare a large meal using seven different types of fish is an ambitious challenge, even for an experienced chef. But the Feast is also an opportunity to turn the meal into an engaging family activity.
Instead of having one person prepare the entire menu for the Feast, try assigning Feast Of The Seven Fishes recipes to other people. Or better yet, make it a surprise game!
FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES ROULETTE
Yes, there’s a way to gamify the Feast Of The Seven Fishes. Here’s how to play Feast Of The Seven Fishes Roulette. You can even play this via MS Teams or Zoom.
- Write down seven different types of fish on pieces of paper. Feel free to do more than seven if you have a larger group.
- Put them all into a bowl and mix them up.
- Have each participating chef pick a piece of paper.
- Each person then has to create a dish for the Feast using their selected fish… in secret.
- Then have each chef reveal their dish as a surprise! Everyone won’t know what the menu is or what they are eating until the night of the Feast.
Since the Feast Of The Seven Fishes isn’t an official holiday, there are no official rules. Besides the obvious premise of using fish in your Feast Of The Seven Fishes recipes, each chef has complete creative control.
Also, your Feast Of The Seven Fishes menu doesn’t have to be exclusively Italian seafood. Feel free to get creative. Yes, sushi counts. The most important part is to have fun while you prepare a collection of dishes for everyone to enjoy.
Memorable Family Experience
Italian families have a unique ability to make family meals look like so much fun. Even the Wise Guys in Goodfellas had wonderful “family” dinners together in prison. The Feast Of The Seven Fishes is no exception.
Over the years, friends of Italian families have been invited to attend the Feast and had a lot of fun. In turn, many of them have brought the Feast tradition home to their non-Italian families. And themed-meals are a great way to create lasting holiday memories with your family.
Eating Fish Has Health Benefits
Health benefits are another reason of the Feast’s growing popularity. Many of the fishes and seafoods used in the meal are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to provide many health benefits.
This has made the tradition increasingly attractive to people looking for an excuse to plan a healthy meal for their friends and family.
Being Featured In Popular TV Shows & Movies
Perhaps the biggest factor in the rise in popularity of Feast Of The Seven Fishes, is its inclusion in popular culture. The heightened exposure of the Feast in entertainment television and TV news programming has helped raise awareness of the the tradition outside of its Italian-American origins.
Over the years, popular TV shows from The Golden Girls to Iron Chef have all mentioned or featured Feast Of The Seven Fishes recipes. There’s even a 2019 movie titled Feast Of The Seven Fishes.
Planning A Feast Of The Seven Fishes Dinner Event
Thinking about planning your own Feast? It’s not that hard if you divide the dishes between guests.
Popular seafood choices at the dinner can include cod, calamari, shrimp, clams, mussels, anchovies, and crab. And some of the dishes can be cooked, while others can be served raw. But ultimately, the menu is up to you!
Despite the name, it is not uncommon to find more than seven seafood dishes served on this occasion, as the number can vary from family to family. Some ambitious groups like to do fourteen or even twenty-one fishes.
You can also include other Italian dishes like pasta and polenta to round out the meal.
Finally, finish off the night with a festive Italian dessert. Or maybe a box of Swedish Fish if you want to be funny.