Monday, December 8, 2008

Buon Natale!

Hello! I know I am always interested in learning about other cultures and their Christmas traditions. So, I thought I would let you in on some of ours...Italian!
Buon Natale means Merry Christmas in Italian. Jesu Bambino means baby Jesus!

There are several food traditions we have as Italians. Some are traditional to the entire Italian culture and some are traditions to our Italian family.

One Italian tradition is the 7 fishes. Every Christmas Eve, Italians all over the world, prepare and eat 7 fishes for Christmas Eve dinner! Some say, Italians do not eat meat on Christmas Eve because of the birth of Jesus. Just as many do not eat meat on Good Friday. (These are Catholic traditions).

I have also heard that it is a feast of 7 fishes because God created the universe in 7 days!

I remember going over to Aunt Jeannie's house as a child, with my Mother. We would go over early in the afternoon and prepare all of the fish. Then, in the evening, the rest of the family would come over and we would eat it! As I sit and write this, I am trying to remember what types of fish we had. I do remember....shrimp, clams, muscles, squid, and trout? (or some type of fish that was filleted, breaded and fried that my Uncle Ray cought at Yankee Lake in NY), scallops and Im sure 1 more!
I also remember an antipasto....that was a salad topped with meats, cheeses and olives (we omitted the meats since we did not eat meat on Christmas Eve). I remember sneaking out black oilives to eat while preparing the dish. Yummy!
I would put the black olives on my finger tips and play! I always got yelled at for doing that, but it was so much FUN!

There are some desserts I remember having as well. My Mom and her sister, Aunt Jeannie, always made the BEST cheesecakes! Thankfully, I got that gene from them :-)
We had cheesecake and Italian cookies. Italian love knots were a must every year. As well as the Russian rocks. (Yes, Italians made Russian named cookies) We had butter cookies as well, made into all different shapes, like Christmas trees and bells. They were decorated with sprinkles and those little candy balls. (I never liked the little candy balls and still do not to this day)
My nehpew is 23 now, but I recall when he was about 2 or 3, he was standing at the cookie table one year when we had Christmas Eve at our house instead of Aunt Jeannies. He was observing all the pretty cookies and picked up one of the Christmas tree butter cookies and said "Where are all the lights"? We all started laughing!

That is what I can remember.
I hope you have enjoyed our family and culture traditions!
I carry some on with my family to this very day!

Buon Natale!

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