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The Feast of the Seven Fishes, aka La Vigilia (The Vigil), is a traditional Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration that commemorates La Vigilia di Natale, the wait for the midnight birth of the infant Jesus. The feast typically features at least seven different seafood dishes, which are served before midnight Mass. The custom of eating seafood on Christmas Eve comes from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence - i.e., no meat or milk products - on the eve of certain holy days.
Although La Vigilia’s true origins are unknown, the custom is said to have begun in Southern Italy. The number seven may refer to the seven sacraments, the Seven Hills of Rome, or perhaps the idea of completion - according to Genesis, God rested on the seventh day. Baccalà (salted cod fish) is a traditional favorite of the sumptuous meal, along with a myriad of other seafood dishes.
From traditional family-style menus to modern twists, restaurants across Los Angeles are celebrating the Feast of the Seven Fishes.