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.