My Christmas Tradition: Feast of the Seven Fishes

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My Christmas Tradition: Feast of the Seven Fishes

Senior Ava McCracken's extended family (some of whom are pictured here) celebrate a traditional Italian dinner called the feast of the seven fishes every Christmas Eve,

Senior Ava McCracken's extended family (some of whom are pictured here) celebrate a traditional Italian dinner called the feast of the seven fishes every Christmas Eve,

Photo courtesy of Heather McCracken

Senior Ava McCracken's extended family (some of whom are pictured here) celebrate a traditional Italian dinner called the feast of the seven fishes every Christmas Eve,

Photo courtesy of Heather McCracken

Photo courtesy of Heather McCracken

Senior Ava McCracken's extended family (some of whom are pictured here) celebrate a traditional Italian dinner called the feast of the seven fishes every Christmas Eve,

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I come from a big Italian family. You wouldn’t be able to tell by my pale skin and freckles, but I pretty much have pasta sauce flowing through my veins.

My family, the DelGrosso’s, host an annual traditional Italian Christmas Eve party. The Feast of the Seven Fishes, also known as The Vigil, is an Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve with meals of fish and other seafood. Fish on Friday or before a holy day has long been a tradition in the Catholic Church.

I’ve been going to this event ever since I can remember, and the food and the memories get better every year.

I’ve been going to this event ever since I can remember, and the food and the memories get better every year.”

Even though the feast is named “seven fishes,” we always have way more than that. My dad, John McCracken, cooks for everyone. He makes tuna sashimi, stuffed calamari, homemade pasta with basil pesto, Chilean sea bass, salmon, smelts, and just about every other fish in between.

There are never leftovers, every dish is always scraped clean. About 70 family members attend, all dressed in their best clothes, and everyone is sure to bring their appetites. By the end of dinner, there’s nothing left but empty tin pans and conversations of dessert already starting.

My mom, Heather McCracken, always makes cupcakes. She makes vanilla with chocolate frosting, chocolate with vanilla frosting, or her delicious Limoncello cupcakes. Her Limoncello cupcakes have homemade lemon curd, lemon frosting, and have Limoncello throughout the different components.

My aunt Cathy makes Pizzelles, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and Buckeyes.

Most of the night is spent eating until we can’t eat anymore. Then we catch up and talk with all of our relatives until well into the night. There is lots of gift giving, and then there are the pictures.

Spending Christmas Eve with my huge family is the best thing I ever could’ve wished for. I wouldn’t change this night for the world.”

My Aunt Denise always gathers everyone together to take family pictures in front of the fireplace. Most people, including myself, try to hide when she starts to rally everyone, but somehow she always finds everyone. By the time the pictures are over, I can barely see from the flashes.

The house is buzzing with laughter, crazy stories, hilarious jokes, and heartwarming Christmas wishes are shared all night. Eventually, most of the family make their way to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church to attend 9:00 mass. We sing Christmas songs, I play Christmas songs on the piano, and we all celebrate the joy of the birth of Jesus.

After mass, my family and I head home. Every year, my mom buys my sister Bella and I new Christmas pajamas and she has us open them every Christmas Eve night. She never forgets to wash them. So, we all take off our makeup, put on our clean pajamas, and watch The Family Stone, our favorite Christmas movie. We watch it every Christmas Eve.

Spending Christmas Eve with my huge family is the best thing I ever could’ve wished for. I wouldn’t change this night for the world.

 

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