Why is fish so important at Christmas?

For many, Christmas isn’t complete without the traditional Turkey dinner, that succulent rib of beef or the honey roast ham. And we get it- meat plays an important role at Christmas. However, when you’re planning this year’s festive food, make sure you include plenty of fish & seafood…

Whether you’re looking for that extra addition to your Christmas lunch, catering for a pescatarian or planning a Christmas Eve feast, seafood is the perfect place to start! Seafood plays a vital role at Christmas across the world, so why not give it a go yourself this year?

Christmas Eve Traditions

Feast of the seven fish Christmas eveMany countries around the world, and especially in Europe, have a feast of fish on the 24th December as part of their festive celebrations.

One of the traditions, the Feast of the Seven Fishes, began from the Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on holy days and is popular all around world. It originates from Southern Italy, where it is also known as La Vigilia (The Vigil)- commemorating the wait for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.

No one really knows the significance of the number seven, other than the feast itself typically containing seven different seafood dishes- although often families make many more. Some include as many as 12 or 13 dishes, including mussels in spaghetti, fried calamari, anchovies, sardines, whiting with lemon, scungilli, lobster fra diavolo, capellini with tuna sauce, branzino, sole, and shrimp scampi.

The abundance of seafood is intended to reflect the observance of abstinence from meat until the feast of Christmas Day.

In Poland, Wigilia is the Christmas Eve feast. The meal is made from foods coming from the four corners of the earth (Forest, Sea, Field and Orchard) with fish providing the main dish, often variations of carp being the most popular choice.Christmas Carp

In the Czech Republic, fried carp is the go-to meal on Christmas Eve. With the traditional recipe, dating back from the 1700s, still being used some Czechs purchase their carp in the lead up to Christmas, keeping it in the bathtub until the big day!

Looking to try something a little different?

Seafood also offers a perfect alternative to meat at this time of year. Whether you are a pescatarian, flexitarian or just looking for something a little different this year, you’re not alone. There are plenty of choice out there, a Salt Baked Salmon, Cranberry and Pine Nut stuffed Monkfish, a Lobster thermidor or pan-fried Scallops.

If you’re looking for something different to add to your Christmas menu, or replacing meat entirely, seafood is a fantastically elegant way to celebrate the holidays with family and friends!