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Fishy Tradition

Hot dogs and parades on Fourth of July. Family dinner with turkey, dressing, and sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. Decorated evergreen trees, garlands, and stockings hung on the fireplace at Christmas time.

Some of our fondest memories are rooted in the ways we celebrate with family and friends. These traditions bind us together. We look forward to them, and we look back on those of the past.

One of the traditions practiced for generations in my family is a remnant of the Italian-American Feast of the Seven Fishes celebrated on Christmas Eve. The practice originated in Southern Italy in anticipation of the birth of the baby Jesus. Since the day was one of abstinence from meat, fish was on the menu, and the more the merrier. Seven different fish dishes is common but there can be more or less. Baccala (salted cod fish), shrimp, calamari, squid, octopus, mussels, and clams are often included.

I make two of my children’s favorite dishes-baccala salad and calamari in red sauce. Sadly, we rarely eat them together. Because of my family’s busy schedules, and the fact that we celebrate with a lavish meal at my sister’s home on Christmas Eve, I send containers of the delicacies home with each of them.

Both dishes are costly and time consuming to prepare, although today, the calamari is much easier as it can be purchased already cleaned cutting down considerably on prep. It only takes the time to simmer for several hours.


The baccala salad is a longer process. The salted cod must be soaked for about three days to extract the salt, then drained, baked, flaked and dressed. It also is better after a day or more while it marinates.


Merry Christmas to all of you and thank you for reading my blog! Whatever your traditions, may they prompt fond memories and joy within you.

(See info on my books on my website and all my posts on my author Facebook page.)

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