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Where I grew up in New Jersey, most of the kids were either Italian (Catholic), or Jewish.
We were all friends, and Sundays were either spent at Italian friends' Sunday dinners, or brisket and deli sandwiches at the Jewish kids' homes.
But Christmas was different for the Jewish kids.
We always went for Chinese food and to the movies on Christmas. That's just how it was. Everything else was closed that day, and that was tradition.
However, when I was a teenager, I started getting invitations to my friend's homes for the Christmas holidays.
I was so happy to not have to go to the movies with my parents anymore!
Julie's mother made a gorgeous Christmas Eve dinner with a roaring fire, a turkey with all the trimmings, and lobster and shrimp in silver chafing dishes. She even wore a hostess gown and played beautiful Christmas music while she cooked and served. I was in awe. Why couldn't WE have Christmas dinner like that at MY house?
My friend Natalie's mother was Polish and made delicious perogies and kielbasa simmered in onions for Christmas Day along with the best potato salad in the world.
Missi's mother made a delicious braciole (stuffed rolled flank steak in tomato sauce), a lasagne and other delicious Italian foods on Christmas Day.
Debbie's family made the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian American feast consisting of 7 different fish dishes to commemorate the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. It is unclear when the term "Feast of the Seven Fishes" was popularized, there are many different theories.
Most of my Southern Italian friends served this feast on Christmas Eve. See Ciao Chow Linda's festa for what she serves.
Well, nothing has changed. I still have the same group of girlfriends since I am 11, and I still get that holiday invitation.
This year we went to my friend Debbie and her sister Patti's home for the Feast on Christmas Eve.
The sisters slave all day in the kitchen and make everything from scratch.
Bacala salad (salt cod)
Stuffed Calamari ("galamad"!!)
A side of broccoli rabe and aglio olio (pasta w/ garlic and oil) on the table to be passed.
Tiramisu and delicious homemade Christmas cookies for dessert and some alka seltzer for me.
It's a wonderful tradition and we are so happy to always be included.
Hope you all had a great holiday.
What are your family holiday traditions?
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