The informant is my father (referred to as FI) who is raised by two Italian parents and was raised in a very traditional Italian household. His parents have been married for 60 years and knew each other in their Italian towns since they were age 10. Every year for Christmas there is a huge celebration, and it has a lot to do with the days leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve there is a big feast. Below my father discusses what is traditionally eaten and made on Christmas Eve.
FI: “The meals and the foods eaten for Christmas are very important. In Italian culture food is everything. It is very important that on Christmas Eve you do not eat meat. Italians avoid eating meat on Christmas Eve because it is apparently a way to prepare and purify for Christmas. So everyone eats fish. I think traditionally you’re just supposed to have fish, but we always had pasta with seafood. And then Christmas is even more food. On Christmas Day, we have a huge dinner which is typically more of a lunch because it’s so early, but we eat pasta, roasts and then have panettone. Panettone is very Italian and my parents would really only get it around Christmas time.”
Growing up with an Italian family, these traditions were definitely still carried down, but it is interesting because no other Italian traditions were really brought into my family- only the traditions surrounding food were carried on. Now I am vegan and do not eat, fish, eggs, dairy or meat and I remember when I became vegan 6 years ago, everyone in my Italian family was very upset and it was a big deal, especially around Christmas time because the question would always be “What are you going to eat?”