In Italian, Christmas Eve is "La Vigilia," the eve. Many Italians also refer to it as The Eve of the Seven Fishes. Traditionally the dinner is meatless and fish dishes dominate. Every region, city, and country town in Italy has ritual foods that are served. Many people prepare Christmas Eve dinners with a required number of courses that range from 7 to 9. The number seven represents the seven sacraments and nine for the Trinity multiplied by three. Over the years the number of courses served by most Italian families has decreased, but fish still remains the main feature of the meal. If you are serving several courses, choose a well-balanced selection of dishes using a variety of different fish and shellfish - an appetizer, a soup, a salad, a fried fish, a baked, grilled, or stewed fish, and a pasta dish. For a simpler meal, prepare just one course and serve with a crusty Italian bread and a mixed green salad.
The shrimp are roasted and chilled and served with a Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce. The shrimp may also be served hooked around the rim of a martini glass with the sauce and celery in the center of the glass.
Mini pancakes made with polenta and topped with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, and caviar. You don't need to use an expensive caviar for this recipe; you can usually find black lumpfish caviar in the canned fish area of your supermarket.