Neapolitan Christmas is characterised by many rituals:
Building an ever more complex nativity scene from scratch and slowly adding small details, with the help of the whole family, over the years;
Playing Tombola, a traditional bingo game where the numbers are announced in relation to specific items, emotions, characters, and combined among them in short stories;
Playing 7 and 1/2, a traditional gambling game, which objective is to collect cards that total as near as possible to 7½ without exceeding that number;
Listening to the novenas of the Zampognari (traditional bagpipers), who go door to door the nine days leading up to Christmas, as a celebration and announcement of the birth of Christ;
Over the last few decades, it also became a ritual for many watching Eduardo De Filippo’s “Christmas at the Cupiello’s”, a Christmas play which is, interestingly, about the idea that traditions, rituals and values are subject to inevitable societal changes.
Obviously, the main Christmas tradition, and an essential ritual for all families, is to cook and eat like this would be everyone’s last meal – I personally remember puzzling scenes such as my mother washing vegetables in the bath tub, because there was not enough space in the kitchen sink for “all that”.
That’s why today I am going to write about the dinner on Christmas Eve.
This menu has well-defined characteristics, being dominated by fish, in contrast with the Christmas Menu, which consists mainly of vegetables and meat.
Both Christmas Eve and Christmas menus include the same set of traditional Christmas cakes and desserts, which are the object of a secret fierce competition among the bakers of the family.
So…let’s get started:
Neapolitan New Year’s Eve Dinner Menu (December 24)
– Marinated Anchovies
– Deep-Fried Algae Pizza Dough Balls
– Bruschette with Tomatoes
– Octopus Salad
– Spaghetti with Clams
Second Main Courses:
– Deep-Fried Cod
– Deep-Fried Prawns and Calamari
– Deep-Fried Large Eel
– Cabbage and Pickle Salad (known as Reinforcement Salad)
Traditional Neapolitan christmas cakes, sweets and desserts
– Struffoli (sweet deep-fried micro balls of dough covered in honey)
– Roccoco (almond and mixed spices hard doughnut)
– Mustaccioli (chocolate glazed, honey and candied fruit pastry)
– Susamielli (S shaped almond, honey and cinnamon biscuits)