Feast of the Seven Fishes – Seafood Recipes for Christmas Eve


On Christmas Eve every year for many years, my family has celebrated the Feast of the Seven Fishes (festa dei sette pesci). This is a tradition if you are from Southern Italy or in many of the Italian-American homes on Christmas Eve, especially in the Northeast.

In Southern Italy, traditional dishes can include:  anchovies, sardines, dried salt cod, smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels, and clams paired with pastas, vegetables, baked or fried kale patties, baked goods, and homemade wine.  The Feast of the Seven Fishes is also known as The Vigil (La Vigilia) and is a commemoration of the wait, Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.

According to Mario Batali:

“It’s what Italians do when they say they’re fasting.” More precisely, the Feast is a meal served in Italian households on La Vigilia (Christmas Eve). In many parts of Italy, the night is traditionally a partial fast, during which no meat should be served. But in true Italian style, this proscription has morphed into something very unfastlike indeed: course after course of luxurious seafood dishes, often as many as 7, 10, or even 13. “No one’s quite sure of the significance of the number,” says Batali. “Some families do seven for the sacraments. Some do ten for the stations of the cross. And some even do 13 for the 12 apostles plus Jesus.”

My family is not Italian, but so many of our family and friends who are Italian-American celebrate and it has been adapted as a beloved tradition. I even extend the Italian influenced noshing to Christmas Day where I lay out a full antipasto, make two kinds of lasagna, plus sausage and peppers!

For Feast of the Seven Fishes, my Mom leads the menu planning several weeks ahead of time, brainstorming the best feast possible and confirming what everyone is bringing. The base dish tends to be her cioppino with shrimp, white fish, king crab and clams, but the cold seafood salad has also been a winner in recent years. I can also guarantee that there will be a smoked fish dip too – so scrumptious!

Check out my Feast of the Seven Fishes Pinterest board and below are scrumptious seafood recipes from The Hungry Goddess to inspire your own Feast of the Seven Fishes!

See the Feast of the Seven Fishes sample menu

Buon Natale!

My Dad was famous for bringing the grill out even in the winter! If you want some tips on grilling fish for your Feast of the Seven Fishes celebration, click here for Grilling Fish Tips.

Almond Crusted Salmon with Black Rice and Fruit Salsa

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Baked Rainbow Trout with Roasted Vegetables and Lemon Rice

Chilean Sea Bass with Orange Sauce


Conch Ceviche 

Creamy Seafood Risotto

Fennel Pollen Scented Quinoa & Tilapia 

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Lemon Oven Roasted Salmon with Fennel and San Marzano Tomatoes

Lemon Tarragon Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dressing

Mock Snapper Turtle Soup

My Mom’s Mussels Marinara 

Oyster Stew

Pasta con le Sarde

Pasta with White Clam Sauce 

Paella Mixta with Sardines, Chorizo, Shrimp, and Chicken

Poached Baccala Salad 

Poached Cod in Spring Vegetable Broth

Roasted Red Peppers and Anchovies with Bruschetta

Salmon Oscar with Purple Asparagus and Blender Bearnaise Recipe

Shrimp with Spiralized Zucchini in Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce

Smoked Fish Dip with Kippers

Spicy Mustard Crab Cakes with Lemon Garlic Aioli

Stuffed Calamari

Tarragon Lobster Salad




4 Responses to “Feast of the Seven Fishes – Seafood Recipes for Christmas Eve”

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  1. Betty says:

    Did this one year for husband and friend. Lot of work, but well worth it. Had 7 different wines with it. Dinner lasted about 4 hours. Will not do again.


  1. […] and Christmas Eve becomes an oceanic feast!  I have a bunch of past traditional recipes on my Feast of the Seven Fishes page (including my Mom’s Cioppino and Mussels Marinara!).  It’s a fun tradition and […]

  2. […] Oven Roasted Chicken 4. Lamb Roast Marinated in Fennel Pollen and Lemon from The Hungry Goddess5.  Feast of the Seven Fishes from The Hungry Goddess6.  Roasted Prime Rib from Liv LifeSide […]

  3. […] dish that my Mom has perfected.  It makes an appearance every year at the holidays, sometimes for Feast of the Seven Fishes, and is also a dish that is requested for special […]

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