The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

Growing up, my family and I would celebrate The Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a big tradition Italians celebrate and this celebration reminds me very much of my father. My father was born in Catania, Sicily and came to the United States when he was about 19 years old. The Feast of the Seven Fishes originated from Southern Italy where it was known as The Vigil. Every Christmas eve, my father would leave early from work to cook a delicious meal and celebrate this occasion with his family. My father was the head chef at Michael Angelo's Restaurant in Astoria, Queens. On this day, I vividly remember him coming home, and immediately beginning his cooking process. My father would prepare grilled calamari, an octopus salad, baked clams, muscles, red snapper, baccala (type of dry, salted cod fish), and filet of sole. As he would cook the different fishes, I remember the fragrant aroma that traveled throughout the house. As years passed, my father got sick and unfortunately passed away. As the holidays come around, they become harder to deal with and seem less exciting. On the first Christmas Eve without him, it took a while for my family and I to adjust to. As of today, my mother is doing a great a job continuing the tradition and making it just as special as my father made it. Even though Christmas Eve and every other holiday will never be the same without him, I hope he is looking down on us proud and with a smile on his face.

Place(s): Italy
Year: 2008

– Nicole Ruggieri

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant