Philadelphia, PA - In true Italian style, the 'Feast of the 7 Fish' was born as a way to get around the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence from meat and dairy on Christmas Eve.
The History of The Feast of The 7 Fishes
Rather than fast, why not create a feast around an item that the church would allow being eaten. Leave it to Italians to turn a holy fast day into a marathon 13-course feast!
It is not clear where or when the tradition started, however, the number 7 is based on religious symbolism. Such as the 7 days of creation or the 7 sacraments. In fact, in some parts of Calabria, they enjoy 13 courses (although not all necessarily fish) to represent Jesus and the 12 apostles. Leave it to Italians to turn a fast day into a marathon 13-course feast!
Due to Italy's culturally significant regional differences, the actual dishes vary, and some northern regions don't even eat fish. Although most of the peninsula enjoys fish on Christmas Eve
The Feast of the 7 Fish is more of an Italian-American and southern Italian tradition most likely created by southern Italian immigrants in the United States in the early 1900s. Today this feast is enjoyed in pockets of southern Italy also.
The most common dishes found in southern Italian 7 fish celebrations are Baccala and the Insalata di mare. However, every family has its own variations. We feature the 7 fish as enjoyed by Riccardo Longo's family, which has roots south of Naples in the Cilento zone. Enjoy the Feast of the 7 Fish, a beloved Italian tradition with strong Italian-American roots.
Where to Order 7 Fishes in Philadelphia
Gran Caffe L'Aquila 7 Fishes - Patrons will enjoy the Feast of the 7 Fishes and authentic Italian Christmas specialties from Gran Caffe L'Aquila owner Riccardo Longo's family table including, a traditional Neopolitan Lasagna, and Sugo di Natale. These holiday meals can be ordered individually or in catering trays for curbside pickup, and delivery through Mercato, Caviar, Uber Eats, and Door Dash.
SliCE Pizza of The 7 Fishes - announces the return of their annual holiday pie, Pizza of the 7 Fishes. This special seasonal pizza is inspired by their families' Christmas Eve traditions and a seven-course seven fish dinner popular in South Philadelphia. Pizza of the 7 Fishes is topped with mozzarella, clams, mussels, shrimp, tuna, crab meat, sardine, sauteed with fresh olive oil and garlic topped with anchovies, fresh lemon, and basil. Available until Christmas Eve (December 24) for $19.00 for small and $26.00 for large.
Ambler’s Sushi Hatsu Offering Japanese-Style Seven Fishes - The traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes gets an Asian spin this Christmas at Ambler’s Sushi Hatsu BYOB. Chef Harrison Kim has teamed up with Bravo’s Season 14 "Top Chef" Sylva Senat of The Pyramid Club and his sushi chef Mitsutaka Harada, for a one-of-a-kind, multi-course takeout collaboration. “Just because indoor dining has been shut down this year, it doesn’t mean Christmas culinary traditions have to be canceled,” said Kim. My ‘top chef’ Mitsutaka and Chef Senat and I decided to have a little fun with this iconic Italian feast by utilizing Japanese ingredients and culinary techniques in five unique compositions. The flavors will be different, but the requisite seven seafood items are included.”