Typical Christmas eve dishes

Christmas eve: here are some traditional Italian dishes

To say that Christmas is one of the most heartfelt holidays in the country is something that the whole of Italy would agree with, from the North to the South.

Italian tradition puts Christmas among the most important annual festivities synonymous with solidarity, union and communion. Precisely for this reason, whether  religious or not everybody  usually gathers together with the family.

Although for some it may seem strange, until a while ago, not all of Italy celebrated Christmas Eve in the same way. Indeed in some regions, especially those of the north, Christmas eve dinner was completely skipped, and everybody got together only for Christmas day lunch.

Now, instead, the dinner of December 24 is part of those Italian traditions celebrated by everyone, even if there are significant variables on the dishes served. In fact, when one wonders if there is a typically Italian Christmas dish, the answer is that in reality there are several, each belonging to a specific regional tradition.

Let’s find out what will be served on Italian tables on the eve by travelling from north to south.

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Christmas eve dishes in the North

The typical dish of the Christmas tradition in the north is the carbonade, beef cooked in red wine. It is usual to accompany this dish with honey croutons, to be seasoned with dried and flavored goat or sheep cured meats.

Even the agnolotti make you immediately think of Christmas as well as ravioli, both in vegetable and meat variants, served with the lean capon.

If in Piedmont and Lombardy the dinner is meat based, in Liguria and Veneto fish wins. A classic example is polenta with cod or boiled meat with sauces.

Christmas eve dishes in the Central regions

Cod is also found in the tradition of Lazio, accompanied by vegetables strictly battered and fried. Even in the capital meat is avoided for dinner, in favor of fish soup or pasta and broccoli in skate broth.

Meat, however, is left for Christmas lunch in which reign:

  • cappelletti in broth
  • roast lamb with potatoes

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Christmas Eve dishes in the South

In Campania during the eve, a typical custom is to prepare capitone, the female of the eel. This is because, being similar to a snake, it symbolizes victory of men over Satan.

In Calabria many cold cuts are put on the table, typical of the culinary tradition of this region. Bacon, capicollo, soppressata and sausage fill the Calabrian tables, then on to spaghetti with breadcrumbs and anchovies to continue with stockfish accompanied with sautéed broccoli.

At Christmas, tradition wins

Although there is no single choice, all Italian regions have something in common, to propose dishes belonging to the family tradition. Although food is one of those sectors that is subject to many fads and fashions, at Christmas all Italians are united in serving up grandmother’s favourite food.

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