Feast of the 7 Fishes

Around Christmastime, his family will have a dinner party they invite family and friends to called the Feast of 7 Fishes. They will play Italian music and, among other celebratory little decorations, make a menu of the dishes that will be had at dinner. These dishes will have a total of 7 types of fish/seafood spread throughout them.

The informant’s Grandmother on his mother’s side passed away a few years ago. She was a first generation Italian immigrant who was very proud of being Italian. His mother has recently been looking to connect with her Italian side more. One of the ways she is doing this is by celebrating the feast of 7 fishes, which is a tradition of early italian immigrants to the Americas. They were celebrating how much more fortunate/wealthy they were in America than they had been in Italy, and found that they could afford to eat seven fish at christmastime, not just one like they had been limited to back in Italy.

I think the informant’s analysis of the original festival- the feast of the 7 fishes- is accurate, mainly celebrating newfound wealth and good fortune. It also is a celebration at Christmastime which, for Christians (and many Italians were Christian), is a time of being grateful for what God has given them. This gratitude centers on him sending his son, Jesus, to earth, but definitely is a time to be grateful to him in general, which would include good fortune and newfound wealth. I think there is another layer to why his mother has recently found this desire to deepen her connection to her Italian side, however, and that is to feel a deeper connection to her own recently deceased mother, as well as to respect her by starting to cherish something she cherished.