Our Holiday Food Traditions–La Vigilia

Holiday preparations are in full swing in around here. Weeks ago, I wrote about our holiday traditions and how we’re choosing to keep things simple this Christmas. What I didn’t discuss though is our holiday food traditions which are a huge part of our celebrations. Our food choices during Christmas are probably the most important part of our holidays- even more important than presents and the menu has been the same for the last 30-something years of my life.


We refer to Christmas Eve as La Vigilia – the night before Christmas. On that night we eat the seven fishes. This tradition was brought over by my grandparents from Italy some 60 years ago. They’ve both passed now but our family continues to honour the age old tradition of eating only fish on La Vigilia.

Traditionally, we eat cured salted cod both bone-in and boneless, octopus, smelts, shrimp, eel, scampi, lobster and mussels. Different families have different preferences but we usually tend to keep our meal the same year after year. In addition to a large spread of various fish dishes we eat a pasta made with breadcrumbs and walnuts which is native to my mothers home town in Italy.

My contribution this year are vegetarian arancini (rice balls) which are basically rice balls stuffed with a peas, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Each ball is then coated in egg and breadcrumbs and deep fried until crispy. A spicy marinara sauce on the side for dipping.


In addition to the arancini, I’m responsible for desert this year and so I’ve prepared a hefty amount of lemon drops, zeppole and chocolate crinkle cookies to munch on. Additionally, we prepared a homemade Tiramisu cake which is a family favorite.

On Christmas day we try to keep our food choices simple. Had we opted to visit family we would have likely been served delicious lasagna, roasted lamb and spiedini but since we’re staying home we’ve decided to celebrate Christmas with a large brunch. On the menu, eggs, pancakes, French toast and ham.

What are your food traditions? I’m always curious to see what other people are eating during the holidays.


Author: Jenny

I'm Jenny, a 30-something mama to 1 living child and 5 angels. I live in a tiny blue cottage in a small suburb outside a major Canadian city. I live here with my miracle baby Margs, my husband Mer, my pup and my 2 cats. I blog about a bunch of different things including parenting, frugal living and minimalism. Feel free to subscribe to my blog and follow me on instagram, twitter or bloglovin.

19 thoughts on “Our Holiday Food Traditions–La Vigilia”

  1. This sounds delicious! We’ll be enjoying fish pie at lunch time on Christmas Eve. We’ll have canapes and nibbles later in the evening, when we have been to Christmas Eve Mass at the chapel at my daughter’s school.

    Christmas Day is always the traditional Turkey with all the trimmings (don’t forget the pigs in blankets!) followed by Christmas pudding and brandy sauce. Boxing Day, we’ll enjoy a baked ham with baby new potatoes and various salads, finishing off with a Tarte Aux Pommes.

    A very Happy Christmas to you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Kuchan. Kugla, german sausage, homemade noodles, of course homemade bread, german beer, etc. all really yummy. We grew up eating everything on an animal including the feet, tongue, brains, etc. My grandmother was a fantastic cook, wish I had learned more from her.


      1. Oh no fun- especially with little ones. But I have found that special moments can be made when “stuck”. Good luck and I hope you’re able to find some special moments. I’ve read a few of your posts now. I enjoy them- thanks for sharing with the world. 🙂


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