Friday, December 31, 2021

Betty White Dies; Just Missed 100!

It's just being reported that America's beloved actress, comedian and American icon BETTY WHITE has died. She died just weeks before a milestone birthday which was coming up next month.

THE LIST! 22 People To Watch In 2022

Out with the old, in with the new.
But we'll be the first tom admit that some of the people on our watch list aren't exactly new. Some of them are, however -- and all of them are interesting. Well, interesting to us -- and we hope to you. I n any event, we think these 22, give or take a few ( and in no particular order) are people you oughta keep your eyes on in the year ahead because they have the potential to do Big Things!
So, here goes:

Glenn Youngkin and Winsome Sears
The new Governor and Lieutenant Governor of of Virginia are certifiable American Originals. They a Dream Team and they  give us great hope for the future. Rising stars!

Ed Durr
New Jersey's redoubtable Giant Killer tell us: "I don't believe 'it is what it is' because I believe you can make it what it is." We like that. Now it's time for this Senator-elect to show us what he's got.

Steve Kush and Jacci Vigilante
The two masterminds behind Durr's upset victory over Steve Sweeney. What do they have up their sleeves next?

Jesse Kelly
One of the most exciting new radio talkers on the horizon and a likely heir to the Rush Limbaugh legacy. 

Tom Kean
He's taking another shot at that gettable New Jersey congressional seat and this time we think he's on the verge of flipping it. GoGoGo!

Senator John  Kennedy
We like his homespun homilies and his quotable Louisiana one-liners. A true rugged individualist among pitiful poseurs, he reminds us of -- well, nobody. He's unique and that's why he's a national treasure.

Nikki Haley
Does she have what it takes to make a real difference on the national stage for the GOP? We're about to find out.

Michael Nutter
We liked the way he spoke up about Kenney and Krasner and a city he loves. We miss you, Mayor Nutter. We want you back!

Mike Testa
This South Jersey state senator is the single most intriguing public official on the horizon in New Jersey right now. He manages to be charismatic without being enigmatic. He's authentic, accessible, smart and daring. In our book, he's tops!

Rebecca Rhynhart
Philly's City Comptroller is widely touted as a future mayor. If she's serious about it, she'll have to start making her moves now. Stay tuned!

Ron DeSantis
The hugely-appealing Governor of  Florida is poised to win re-election in a landslide. Not only is he right out of central casting but, substantively, he's head and shoulders among many other leaders -- so much so that that he's destined to be a presidential contender. We like that!

Nick Covington and Kyle Rittenhouse
Young and with bright futures ahead of them, they both beat the odds and slayed the dragons. That alone puts them on the list and we hope this is just the beginning. The sky's the limit!

Lin Manuel Miranda
Is there ever a reason not to watch this guy? He's so classy. creative, constructive and productive that almost anything he touches is instantly impressive and worthy of our attention. 

Kristi Noem
The Governor of South Dakota has had a few missteps of late but she's still compelling and is destined to be formidable going forward. Pay attention to her!

Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster
The two megawatt co-stars of Broadway's long-awaited revival of The Music Man have the opportunity to single-handedly revive Broadway and save the Great American Musical in the post-Sondheim era. Don't bet against them.

Bill McSwain
This former Marine and fearless prosecutor wants to be the next Governor of Pennsylvania. He's a straight arrow. But can he show the sort of down home authenticity and connection with small town folk that can put him over the finish line? Keep watching!

Brandon Umba
An upset victor and future Assemblyman in a key New Jersey district gives fresh hope to the GOP in the Garden State. Now it's time for him to take the momentum of his big win and make it mean something for the rest of us. Let's go Brandon!

David Oh and Alan Domb
Two Philadelphia City Council members who emerge as sensible voices among far too many senseless ones. Maybe one of them (or maybe both) will run for mayor. We hope so!

Matt Mowers
He's worked in New Jersey politics since he was a teenager but has now made his home in New Hampshire where he's seeking a congressional seat. The New Hampshire GOP is so high on this young turk that they're even talking about him for the US Senate. We're high on him too!

Billy Prempeh
A true disruptor out of Paterson in New Jersey's Passaic County, he seems ready to once again try to unseat weary old veteran Congressman Bill Pascrell. That's a tall order. But Prempah is feisty, stubborn and nobody owns him. Can you tell that we love disruptors?

Enes Kanter Freedom (pictured, above)
He's defied the NBA, China, Nike, the cancel culture, Big Media, the woke mob and corporate lockstep to emerge as one of the most intriguing figures in professional sports. This newly-naturalized American citizen makes us proud and could turn us into rabid Boston Celtics fans. There, we said it! 

Senator Marsha Blackburn
Hey, we admit it. We're partial. We adore Tennessee! And we could listen to Marsha Blackburn for hours. Not only does she seem to always make sense but she does it in a way that is engaging, entertaining and easy-to-grasp. In short, she relates. You go, girl!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

As The Olympics Approach, Keep This In Mind!


A Courageous Woman - A Chilling Story!


Her sister's boyfriend was murdered in Brewerytown. Katelin Gorski joins scores of families who say their loved ones would be alive but for Philly D.A. Larry Krasner's lax law enforcement policies and disrespect for victims. The Gorski and Loncar families believe that Milan Loncar's killer should not have been out on the streets in the first place -- and would not have been except due to total negligence in Krasner's office in letting somebody with an extensive, violent rap sheet walk with extremely low bail. Read her open letter to D.A. Krasner here: Broad + Liberty is a Philadelphia-based non-profit media company dedicated to sharing voices and perspectives that are shut out of other media outlets. Join our email list here: And donate here:

A Prediction That Came True -- DECADES Later!


The Craziest Local New Year's Eve Customs!


The Times Square Ball Drop is a New Year's Eve tradition -- a dumb tradition, but still a tradition.
But did you know that many other cities have their own midnight "drops" on New Year's Eve? Of course, with the current renewed COVID panic we don't know how many of these are actually being held this year but it's probably a safe bet to say that many will still be carried-out as they are outdoor events and typically don't attract New York sized crowds.
Anyway, here is a list of some of the most unusual "drops" around the country:
Raleigh, N. C. - Acorn drop
Carlisle, PA - Car
Miami - Orange
Kennet Square, PA - Mushroom
Atlanta, GA - Peach
Bethlehem PA - Peeps (yes, those funny marshmallow chicks)
Marion, Ohio - Popcorn
Harrisburg, PA. - Strawberry
Orlando, FL. - Orange
Winter haven, FL. - Lego brick
Indianapolis, IN - Indy car
Eastport, ME - Sardine
Frederick, MD - Giant key
Princess Anne, MD - Stuffed muskrat
Traverse City, MI - Cherry
Niagara Falls, NY - Gibson guitar
Elmore, OH - Sausage
Lebanon, PA. - Lebanon Bologna
Hilton Head Island, SC - Golf ball
Folly Beach, SC - Flip flops
Fredericksburg, VA - Pear
New Orleans, LA - Fleur-de-lis
Bartlesville, OK - Olive
Nashville, TN - Musical note
Plymouth, WS - Cheese wedge
Flagstaff, AZ - Pine cone
Boise, ID - Giant Potato 
Las Cruces, NM - Chile pepper
Prescott, AZ - Boot
Temecula, CA - Bunch of grapes
And my two personal favorites:
Mechanicsburg, PA.. - Wrench (Whoa - Watch out when that wrench drops!)
Dillsburg, PA.. - Pickle (Beats me why anyone would celebrate a "pickle drop" -- or droop.)
Groundhog Day. And strawberry, car, wrench, mushroom and pickle drops. The Mummers. Something about Pennsylvania seems to attract unusual, faux-folk customs.

Why Are Numbers RISING In Vaccinated States?


Now, The REAL BIG LIE Is Sadly Evident!

Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President 

of the United States of America

More cases of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as the China Virus, are recorded in the U.S. today than ever before—not even close, and the Fake News Media refuses to print the real numbers. Do you remember when the Democrats campaign was based on the fact that they would quickly and easily get rid of the China Virus? Their whole campaign was a lie from Religion, to the Border, to the Military, to the Economy, to Inflation, to the loss of Energy Independence and, of course, most embarrassing of all, to the inept, grossly incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan. All of those things, together with the Rigged 2020 Presidential Election, are the REAL BIG LIE!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

22 People Who Should Get Lost In 2022

Oh. c'mon!
You all know someone who you wish would just buzz off in 2022. 
And on the big stage, the stage of power, fame and (in some cases) fortune, we all know somebody like that. In fact we probably all know at least 22 people who should get lost in 2022.
Here's our 22 (give or take a few) in no particular order. We'd be happy if we never saw of heard from them again, quite frankly:

1) Jill and Joe. Just call them slouchy and grouchy. They're eminently expendable, and have been for some time!

2) Fauci. There are quite a few on this list who should have retired eons ago. Among all of those, Dr. Ant'nee tops the list. What a disaster!

3) Philly's Double K Krybaby Duo, Kenney and Krasner. Boorish bellyachers both, they're destroying a great city.

4) Phony Phil Murphy. Hypocrisy personified. Did you vote for this poseur? If you did (or if you didn't bother to vote) shame on 'ya!

5) Andy Kim. The inconsequential congressperson. A shameless grandstander who actually accomplishes nothing. Oh, wait -- he picked debris off the floor of the Capitol rotunda.

6) Liz Cheney. If she isn't the definition of a privileged white person, we don't know who is.

7) Mitt Romney. McCain should have taught us. Don't let them into the Senate after they've lost the Big Prize. Thank you, Al Gore!

8) Whoopi Goldberg. The Big Challenge of the new year: how to make someone so Falstaffian disappear. Calling David Copperfield . . . . 

9) Geraldo Rivera. He's always been egocentric. But now he's disputatious and tiresome as well.

10) Schumer. We'd almost be willing to trade the Cuomo brudders for him. Keep them, dump him. Well, we did say almost.

11) Bill Gates. Nobody ever liked the Smartest Man In The Room. And we like him even less now.

12) Alex Baldwin. What a mess this guy has made of things. Too late for anger management, we fear.

13) Bette Midler. Four words: shut up and sing! Well, on second thought, just shut up!

14) Harry and Meghan. Why do exiled royals always wind up here? Didn't we cast them aside nearly 250 years ago?

15) Pelosi. Will this be the year she finally retires? Or can we at least eject her from the Speaker's chair and exile her to Alcatraz.

16) Steve Sweeney. Well, yeah -- he should be gone as he suffered a humiliating defeat. But now he promises to run for governor. Chutzpah would be too mild a word.

17) AOC and The Squad. Are there two or three of 'em? We're never quite sure. What we do know is there are too many of them.

19) Lorne Michaels. In fact you can include the entire SNL cast and crew in this one. Shoulda been cancelled years ago.

20) Elizabeth Warren. The nattering nag. She really is America's mother-in-law.

21) Joy Behar. Is she as dumb as she is loud or as loud as she is dumb? Either way, she's disposable.

22) Bezos. He not only looks menacing and more and more he and his empire are becoming suffocating. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

VIDEO: Mask Fight Breaks Out On Delta Flight!

This Needs To Be Thoroughly Investigated NOW!


Demand Investigation NOW, With Subpoena Power!

All 15 members of the New Jersey State Senate Republican Caucus are once again calling for the formation of a Senate Select Committee on the Executive Branch’s Response to the COVID-19 pandemic after Governor Murphy’s Administration disclosed a $53 million settlement with the families of 119 residents who died in New Jersey veteran’s homes.

The Senate Republican Caucus is once again calling for the formation of a Senate Select Committee on the Executive Branch’s Response to the COVID-19 pandemic after the Murphy Administration disclosed a $53M settlement with the families of 119 residents who died in NJ veteran’s homes. (

In a letter to Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, the caucus urged the formation of an investigative committee with subpoena powers to seek answers to enduring questions about the Administration’s Covid strategies.

“We must get answers regarding the decisions, the edicts, and the guidance the Murphy team imposed on veterans and nursing home administrators that may have triggered the devastating results,” the Republican letter stated.

With the power to compel witness testimony, the committee could lift the veil of secrecy and uncover answers that have eluded legislators, members of the media, and the public despite multiple open public records act requests.

“It was, and remains, our contention that the investigation would improve transparency and accountability and provide important insight of an Administration that has preferred to govern by executive order,” the Senate Republicans said in the letter.

The full text of the letter is below: 


December 28, 2021

Dear Senate President Sweeney and Senator Scutari,

The Administration’s recent $53 million settlement for the deaths of 119 residents of New Jersey veteran’s homes who died from COVID revives our call for an investigatory committee with subpoena power to review the Executive Branch’s pandemic performance.

Not coincidentally, news of the settlement was revealed to a reporter after the Governor departed on a flight to Costa Rica for vacation and disclosed by late in the afternoon the day before Christmas Eve.

This appears to be an orchestrated scheme designed to avoid scrutiny and shield the Governor from answering crucial questions during the holiday news void.

That settlement, and everything that led up to it, demands explanation, and the silence from the front office is unacceptable but not surprising.

The Administration has never explained the rationale of decisions during the pandemic that led to the loss of almost 10,000 vulnerable seniors.

News of the $53 million payoff, tendered without the participation or consultation of the duly elected Legislature, leaves us no choice but to once again renew the call for the Senate to form a Select Committee with subpoena powers to investigate the Executive Branch’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on nursing home residents, too many of whom lost their lives.

We need to understand where these taxpayer dollars are coming from, and how the Governor justified the expenditure without including the Legislature. Specifically, are federal coronavirus funds, or some other funds, expected to be used for the settlement?

We also must get answers regarding the decisions, the edicts, and the guidance the Murphy team imposed on veterans and nursing home administrators that may have triggered the devastating results.

Our caucus wonders what this settlement portends for the thousands of other families affected by the Administration’s orders.

The Governor’s Administration has maintained all along that their instructions to the long-term care facilities were not at fault, yet the monetary settlement would suggest otherwise.

The Senate Republican caucus first called for a Senate Select Committee in a letter on May 13, 2020. That was the first of six similar communications

It was, and remains, our contention that the investigation would improve transparency and accountability and provide important insight of an Administration that has preferred to govern by executive order.

Through the pandemic, the Governor has eschewed the Legislature and its constitutionally ensured role as an equal and separate branch of government.

It is the opinion of our elected caucus that the results we have seen during two years of pandemic – including the $53 million settlement – clearly demonstrate the need for legislative participation.

It is time for the Senate to get off the bench and get into the action.


Thomas Kean

Steven Oroho
Budget Officer

Joe Pennacchio

Kristin Corrado
Conference Leader

Kip Bateman
Deputy Whip

Robert Singer
Deputy Leader

Anthony M. Bucco
Senator – District 25

Christopher Connors
Senator – District 9

Michael Doherty
Senator – District 23

James Holzapfel
Senator – District 10

Declan O’Scanlon
Senator – District 13

Vince Polistina

Senator – District 2

Holly Schepisi
Senator- District 39

Michael Testa
Senator – District 1

Samuel Thompson
Senator – District 12

He Oughta Be Ashamed; But He Has No Shame!


New Book Celebrates Philly's Italian Influences!


You CERTAINLY Must Know This Feeling!


Monday, December 27, 2021

2021: Remembering All Those We Lost, VIDEO

Good Advice, Especially Going Forward!


Biden's Approval Reaches LOWEST Point Ever!

Joe Biden's approval rating has reached its lowest recorded level in a new national poll.

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that only 40% of likely U.S. voters approve of President Biden’s job performance. Fifty-eight percent (58%) disapprove.

The latest figures include only 21% who strongly approve of the job Biden is doing (about one in five voters) and 49% who strongly disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -28. 

Think about it: nearly six out of every ten voters disapprove of this man and one out of every two strongly disapproves. These are disgraceful figures!

This man is a failure!

Speaking Of Time, Did You Know This?


A Dazzling New Tradition In Cherry Hill!

C'mon Now! You Must Remember This, Right?


Sunday, December 26, 2021

TODAY Is 'Boxing Day' - Here's What That Means


Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain and most of the Commonwealth nations.
The day after Christmas is customarily observed as a legal holiday.
No, the Brits do not all run out to boxing matches.But they do enjoy soccer games today and they do lots of shopping today as well. The Queen and her entourage (such as they are) engage in fox hunting.
Where did the day get its name?
No one quite knows.
Many think it comes from the idea of boxing up Christmas stuff and/or sorting through your Christmas boxes (your gifts). But history says this is also the day when servants would get their Christmas gifts (cash and/or boxed treats) from their masters -- a sort of littler, humbler Christmas. 
Here's how it worked: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.
It was also a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. In England Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. 
It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price reductions. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest amount of returns. In the UK it's estimated that up to 12 million shoppers appear at the sales, a rise of almost 20%  each year. 
So, in the spirit of the day -- box, shop, spend, eat, dink and enjoy!

The World's Best Artists Interpret Christmas!


Here's Why We Have NO New Year Resolutions!

Can you guess what our New Year resolutions are?

No, you won't guess them because we don't have any. None!

We've never made New Year's resolutions.
And we won't be making one this year either.
Because they're stupid.
Think about it: A resolution (promise) is a Big Deal. And when you make it with the entire year ahead of you, well -- that's a long haul.
Plus, January and February are just dreadful months and an awful time to have to keep your resolution.
For example, suppose you resolved to watch your diet. What the hell is there to do during the dreary months of January and February except eat? And now you've gone and prevented yourself from eating. How are you gonna enjoy those Super Bowl parties or that Valentine's dinner with your sweetheart? And what about those l-o-n-g winter days when you want a cheesesteak or a pizza? Don't tell me you're gonna deprive yourself.
Suppose you resolve to work out more and get more exercise.
You'll have to run on a treadmill or somesuch. What's more stupid than that? You're indoors, you're runnin, you're sweatin and you ain't goin nowhere. Then you're all perspired and running toward your car in the frigid weather. That's a quick way to get pneumonia. Why would you want to do that?
But people go ahead and make these dumb resolutions anyway.
And 99% of the time these resolutions are not kept.
Remember this: When you make a promise, that promise is gonna weigh on you. It's only gonna make you do the opposite because you're gonna be thinkin about the promise all the time.
"Don't eat."
Whoa -- Did someone say "Eat?" Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat!
Ya see what I mean?
When you make a resolution, you're your own worst enemy. You're fighting yourself.
Here's the one way to approach this year and every year: Don't get too carried away on any front. Try to live fully but moderately. Avoid excess whenever you can.
Yeah, you can go overboard once in awhile but don't make it a habit, OK?
Be sensible. Use your noggin.
Then, you won't have to worry and you won't have to make resolutions.
You'll be fine.
Happy New Year!

The More He Fumbles, The Funnier It gets!


Saturday, December 25, 2021

VIDEO: Watch A $95,000 Tesla Explode!

The Queen's Christmas Message, 2021


Colorful Christmas In Manhattan - 2021


New This Year: An Original Christmas Poem!


May your heart find Christmas

In everything you see 

In the little child with Santa Claus 

And the star atop the tree. 

Let the wondrous Christmas spirit 

Shine with every twinkling light 

Let it gladden every soul 

And brighten the darkest night. 

Let every Christmas prayer be heartfelt 

And every dream be filled with love 

Let every Christmas greeting glow 

With enlightenment from above. 

For Christmas is, beyond all else 

A day that dwells apart 

With that family in the manger 

And their journey to your heart. 

Christmas seeks neither gift nor honor 

And brings only one request 

That you give with boundless love 

And put worldly cares to rest. 

That’s the joy of Christmas 

It’s not about what you earn 

It lives in what you give away 

And not what you seek in return.

Christmas In Your Heart copyright 2021 by Dan Cirucci.

Precious Memories: An Enduring Christmas Gift!


As the years go by, Christmas memories take on a sort of black and white patina -- or so it seems.

Anyway, it's once again Christmas, a joyous time of the year.

And I see dead people.

They are all around me and they are here to celebrate Christmas with me.
I turn on the TV and Jimmy Stewart is racing down Main Street in Bedford Falls hoping to escape the confines of a small town but knowing that he never will.
And Alastair Sim, the quintessential Scrooge, is grimacing in the classic black-and-white version of everyone's favorite Christmas tale.
And in living color I still see Judy Garland and Bing Crosby and Perry Como and Dinah Shore and Andy Williams singing Christmas songs. Judy's still full of pathos as she tenderly sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
Jack Benny is here too and so is Lucy in a tender episode that ends with five Santas where there should be only one. One of the Santas just may be . . . could it really be?
And when I turn on the radio. I hear Christmas carols by Luciano Pavarotti and Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra and Mahalia Jackson and Mario Lanza.
On You Tube I watch President Reagan deliver a Christmas message from the White House. The President is warm and reassuring and he speaks confidently of faith in God and our Judeo-Christian heritage.

My mind tumbles back to the gritty, industrial city that I grew up in -- a riverfront city that didn't realize back then that its glory days were already behind it. It's a bleak, damp, gray December day but I'm warm and secure in the confines of my father's old Plymouth as we rush from place to place through narrow city streets marked by row houses and the occasional corner store.
We don't speak very much but I'm so happy to be with him. He's making lots of stops, picking up small treats and gifts from a variety of friends and businesspeople for whom he may have done odd jobs during the year. Whatever he manages to gather will help to make our Christmas a bit happier.
Even in the run up to Christmas, he's a tough negotiator. He barters with merchants and grocers. as he tries to select just the right provisions for our Christmas feast.
He maneuvers through and around streets, neighborhoods and landmarks with the swiftness of a true native.
His energy fills the room wherever he goes. He's not a big guy but he makes a huge impact. And I know that as long as I'm by his side, no harm can come to me.

On Christmas eve aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors come and go as the all-night feast of the fishes drifts into the wee hours of Christmas day. The front door remains unlocked and all are welcome.
On Christmas morning the uncles begin their ritual home visitations, gathering more participants as they move from house to house. Demonstrative, boisterous and well-lubricated, they pass out silver dollars to the children. These will be accepted as treasured tokens and saved in a safe place.
Through it all I see my mother, full of wry wit, optimism and just the right perspective on the whole panoply. She's got a sharp eye and she's a great mimic as she jokes about people, places and personalities.
If you press her, she may even remember some of the people from her own earlier Christmases but she'd rather dwell in the present. She's very much about her own family, right here, right now.
Of course, now I understand why she took that approach.

As you get older, this is what happens.
Christmas isn't totally joyous. It isn't always candy canes and sugar plums.

Now, I'm the only one left from my immediate family of origin. My parents, my sister and my brother-in-law are all gone.
So many Christmas memories; so many Christmases past.
But Christmas in your heart means Christmas not just with your present-day family but also with those who have passed on, as loved ones never leave you since love is eternal.
So, while Christmas glows mightily in the eyes of your children and grandchildren, Christmas is also bittersweet.

Not to worry, though.
The memories are good. And the sights, sounds and glad tidings live within me.
Plus, at this time of year all of these people seem to come alive once again -- alive in a very special way. They are with me. They are part of me. And I treasure them even more as these memories are shared with present and newly arriving family members.
And I suppose that's one of the lessons of Christmas: Let all the people and the events and the memories of the Christmases past deepen and enrich your understanding of this wonderful holiday. Savor it all.
Bring them along with you. Let them walk by your side. Be strengthened by their presence and pass on what you know, who you are, how you feel, what you have learned.
And be proud, strong and tender -- especially for the children who watch you more closely now than at any other time of the year.
In that way, you'll keep the true spirit of Christmas.

This Christmas story has appeared (with slight modifications) every year on the Dan Cirucci Blog as our gift to you.
Merry Christmas!

Buon Natale a Buon Anno Nuovo e Tutti!


Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas, 2021: Amazing Christmas Trees, Scenes!


The Seven Fishes? Here's What You Need To Know!


People always ask me about the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes served on Christmas Eve. In fact, the idea of the seven fishes has now become sort of legendary.

And so strong is this tradition, that I can honestly say that in my lifetime (and we're talking many decades) I've never spent a Christmas Eve without a variety of fish dishes spread before me. This is a hallowed custom that is passed from one generation to another. Where and how did it start? I've heard all kinds of stories trying to explain it but I'm not sure anyone really knows definitively. But I do think it's rooted in the Italian-American immigrant experience. It's something that Italian-Americans kept and expanded upon over the years And, as they prospered, it came to be more elaborate.To begin with you must have at least seven fish selections on the table.

Why seven?

Well, seven is a very important number. It stands for the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and the seven days of creation. In Biblical numerology, seven is a number of perfection.

And fish is the featured dish because Italians have customarily abstained from eating meat on Christmas Eve. In fact, I do believe that for a long time the Catholic church prohibited the eating of meat the day before Christmas, This is the Christmas vigil. For my part, I still observe the "no meat on Christmas Eve" rule. I now do it in memory ops my father who strictly followed this rule.

There is no set menu for this feast.
But here are some of the fishes that are traditionally used: calamari (squid); scungilli [skuhn-GEE-lee] (conch); baccala [bah-kah-LAH] (dry, salt cod); shrimp; clams (usually served with pasta); mussels, snapper, trout, tuna or salmon. I remember my father cleaning and preparing the various fishes (especially the baccala, calamari, smelts and scungilli for hours.
We have adapted this menu over the years and updated it somewhat.

So, our annual feast usually includes calamari, baccala, shrimp, crab cakes, tuna, smelts and salmon. The cod and shrimp are served in both cold and fried or sauteed varieties. Shrimp is served as a shrimp cocktail and as shrimp scampi. Crab is served as both breaded and fried crab balls and fresh, cold crab claws. The baccala is served fried and in a salad. The calamari is served baked and stuffed. The tuna is served with spaghetti in a red sauce. The smelts are fried and the salmon is broiled. In addition to all of this it is customary to serve fried cauliflower and Italian bitter greens,  c commonly known as e verdes. 

Our feast is usually preceded by cocktails (that's where the cold shrimp and crab come in) with much chatter and anticipation.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes takes up the entire evening -- usually beginning with the preliminaries at around 5 or 6 PM and often continuing into the wee hours of the morning. The bountiful array of food remains on the table for everyone to enjoy. Any guests who happen to arrive are also welcome to partake.

When he was alive, my father always prepared the bulk of the meal. He was an outstanding cook and accomplished "foodie" before there was such a term. His recipes were all in his head and the dishes were passed down from his mother and her family. My mother, however, always insisted on preparing the crab balls. That was her special forté. 

After my father passed on, my sister and brother-in-law took over the tradition and kept much of it intact while adding a few updates including shrimp scampi, cold crab claws, salmon and shrimp cocktail. Now that they are gone, the meal has largely become the domain of my niece, nephew and (sometimes) my son. Thank goodness, they are insistent on continuing this grand tradition -- something that goes all the way back to my grandparents and probably even beyond that.

Desserts are not a mainstay of the feast. In fact, they are more of an afterthought. But, as more American elements have been introduced over the years, they have taken on their own prominence.
So, desserts now include an assortment of rich cakes, pies and cookies as well as cannoli and espresso.
Our feast is more casual than it was in years past but fine china, linens and glassware are still used on the table and when I say "casual" I mean business casual. So, this is definitely not a night for jeans or sweat suits or any kind of athletic gear.

And since it's Italian, it's an evening of high drama. All emotions (and generations) are at play. So, it's grand opera one minute, a Broadway musical the next and then lots of rap, in no particular order. At any given moment several family members are competing for attention. The whole thing can become raucous but there are also quiet and reflective moments as these dishes and this event evoke powerful memories that bring emotions to the surface. While it helps to have your wits about you as conversation ebbs and flows, there are also moments of pathos.

To survive the evening, you need to pace yourself.
It's fine (and expected) to eat more than you usually would -- even much more. But you must take your time. That's the Italian Way -- to savor every moment and engaging all your senses.
It's best to taste a bit of everything, moving through the huge menu in a careful, measured manner. My favorites are the crab cakes, shrimp and tuna pasta. So, I have to be careful not to eat so much of those dishes lest I not have room for anything else. If you do not partake of a bit of everything you're liable to offend your host.

Like I said, for Italian families this ritual feast is sacrosanct and intense feeling abounds. Why? Because the meaning of the evening is all wrapped up with loved ones (including those who have passed on) and our most cherished values. Consequently, one must drink in moderation. In fact, if you feel an urge to lift your glass frequently make sure you're lifting a glass of water.
With all the fish on the table, you will need it.

BTW: For Italians, Christmas Day is not as much of a Big Deal as Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day lasagna and chicken cutlets are more than enough. That's what we call decompressing. 

Enjoy these photos from one of our recent feasts:

Cold shrimp.

Crab balls.

The spaghetti with tuna in red sauce.

The bitter Italian greens.


Smelts, crab and fried cauliflower.

Cod and fried cauliflower.

Chocolates, miniature cupcakes, cookies, key lime pie and the tree.