One of the staples for Italian people in New Jersey, along with macaroni on the Thanksgiving table (don't start), is to celebrate the "feast of the seven fishes" on Christmas Eve.

The tradition's origins is unclear according to eataly.com. In fact, the article also says, "despite its popularity among Americans, many Italians do not even know about the tradition."

Well, we know about it in New Jersey, and growing up in Union City with an Italian grandmother who gave birth to 15 children who all married and had their own kids, we literally needed our own ocean to cover our Christmas Eve feast.

We would start the antipasto with clams, shrimp cocktail, smelts, anchovies, scungilli salad,  then move onto the macaroni with stuffed calamari in a red sauce or spaghetti and clams or crab in a white. Then would come the main course which would be lobster tails, scallops, and flounder. I know that's more than seven but who's counting, it's Christmas Eve!

After I got married, my sister would go to my brother-in-law's family in New York, who were also great cooks, and bring me leftovers from the night before that I would eat while waiting for Christmas dinner.

Today, as I pass along the tradition to my sons, I have to explain to them that Pepperidge Farm goldfish do not count as a Christmas Eve fish, nor do Swedish Fish even for dessert, nor to McDonald's filet of fish. What exactly is that fish they use and why have I never seen it in the ocean?

As we get ready to celebrate yet another Christmas Eve this time during a pandemic that is forcing us to keep the crowd smaller, that should mean more fish for you. So far as I know, Gov. Phil Murphy has not cut down on the number of fish we're allowed to have. Here's some of what you're having.

MORE: The feast of the seven fishes, Jersey style

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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