If you’re an Italian or are friends with one from the New Jersey/New York/Philly area, you’ve experienced the Feast of the Seven Fishes at least once.

It’s a tradition in a VERY small part of Southern Italy. Honestly, if you were to ask any person from Italy, they would most likely say they have never heard of it. So it’s more of a “tradition” here in our area.

Adrien Sala via Unsplash
Adrien Sala via Unsplash

What is the Feast of the Seven Fishes?

It’s an Italian-American tradition of eating seven fish dishes to celebrate the holiday. The fish comes from the Catholic practice of not eating meat on the eve of some holidays.

Why “seven”?

There are a few different reasons that this tradition has exactly 7 fish dishes. Some say the number 7 is symbolic in the Bible for being repeated so many times. Others say it’s because there are 7 sacraments, 7 deadly sins, or that God completed his work and “rested” on the 7th day.

When does the Feast of the Seven Fishes take place?

This amazing spread of fish dishes takes place on Christmas Eve.

What kind of fish can you eat?

The great thing about this tradition is that there are an infinite number of dishes that can be made. If the dish has fish in it, it counts. Traditionally, you’ll see baccala, mussels, scallops, and filets, but I’ve even seen sushi on a Seven Fishes table! All bets are off at that point.

Vinicius Benedit via Unsplash
Vinicius Benedit via Unsplash

Luckily, we live in an area that celebrates this tradition that even restaurants get in on it.

If you’re not in the mood to cook, but still want to celebrate this feast, check out these 7 South Jersey restaurants that are open on Christmas Eve with a Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner:

Rexy’s Bar & Restaurant in West Collingswood Heights

Nunzio in Collingswood

Hearthside in Collingswood

Siena Italian Creative Cuisine in Voorhees Township

Briglia’s Tavern in Berlin

Spiaggetta Restaurant in Stone Harbor (Not on Christmas Eve)

Roma Pizza & Stellato Ristorante in West Berlin (Take-out)

Awesome one-of-a-kind old school eatery in South Jersey

Gallery Credit: Dennis Malloy

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5's Morning Show Producer Kristen. Any opinions expressed are her own.

Questions, corrections, or comments? Send Producer Kristen an email at kristen.accardi@townsquaremedia.com or follow her on Instagram.