Feast of 7 Fishes: Holiday Traditions #mirusmistletoemagic

December 13, 2020 | People at Mirus Australia

Do you have any traditions this time of year? Either with family, friends, work colleagues, or the residents and clients at your organisation? Welcome to Mirus Mistletoe Magic #mirusmistletoemagic where our team is sharing their own traditions…

Rob Covino, Co-Founder of Mirus Australia, shares his family’s very “fishy” Christmas tradition.

Born in Ohio, in what is called the Rust Belt of USA, Rob immigrated to Australia in 2006. Rob hails from an Italian-American family whom he fondly refers to as the “crazy and hot deaded Italians”.

On Christmas Eve, they enjoy 7 courses of fish dishes including oysters, calamari, fish. La Vigilia di Natale, also known as the Feast of Seven Fishes, is the Italian tradition of eating an extensive, seafood dinner before Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Although it is not called that in Italy and is not a “feast” in the sense of “holiday,” but rather a grand meal.

The tradition comes from Southern Italy and goes by several different names. La Vagilia di Natale (Vigil of the Nativity), Cenone (great supper), Cena della Vigilia di Natale (the supper of the Vigil of the Nativity), and Festa dei Sette Pesci (the Festival of Seven Fish). It includes all types of fish, including shellfish.

While the feast can be traced back to ancient times, it’s kind of loose with its traditions and symbolism. There are most likely two reasons for a feast of only fish. The first is a religious reason. The Roman Catholic Church requires worshippers to fast and do penance before extreme feasting and gluttony. An all-fish meal on Christmas Eve might have been penance for the feasting about to happen the next day and often took the form of fasting (eating less) or abstinence (refraining from foods like meat, fowl, and sometimes dairy). People would eat and wait as if holding vigil for the midnight birth of baby Jesus. Once they returned home from Mass they would have dessert.

Stay tuned for more festive and fun filled traditions as we celebrate the holidays or as we call it #MirusMistletoeMagic