Traditional Italian Holiday Foods

All Italian holiday meals are centered around the family being together and celebrating. And, religious significance often plays a role in holiday traditions as well. On Christmas Eve, most traditional Italian meals celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes. As the name implies, this traditional meal involves several types of seafood and has its roots in Christianity. But, while the traditional Italian Christmas Eve celebration centers on fish, an Italian Christmas Day lunch incorporates more meat, pasta, and vegetables. Let’s explore some mouth-watering traditional Italian holiday foods that encompass the holiday season.

PastaItalian holiday foods pasta

Traditional Italian holiday meals typically feature a pasta dish. The many different kinds of Italian pasta result from the various ways of preparing it throughout the country. For instance, Tortellini in brodo (broth), gnocchi, ravioli, baked pasta or simple pasta with meat sauce are all traditional Italian holiday foods. Of course, there’s always room for classic lasagna, whether filled with vegetables or meat.


Of course, the most well-known and traditional Italian appetizers is antipasto. Typically, this dish consists of cured meats, such as salami or prosciutto, olives, pickled vegetables, and various cheeses. But, another appetizer you may find at an Italian Christmas Day lunch is bruschetta. This dish is offered with various toppings, like mozzarella and tomato or paté and figs. Other traditional holiday appetizers include focaccia with rosemary and sea salt, arancini (rice balls) and grilled eggplant.


Italians also enjoy many different kinds of cooked vegetables at a traditional holiday gathering. For example, Sautéed Swiss chard, potato with string beans in tomato sauce, and roasted broccoli with breadcrumbs and olive oil are some tasty, traditional choices. On the other hand, you may also see lentils, zucchini, and eggplant at an Italian holiday meal.


While Christmas Eve traditionally features fish as the main course, Italian Christmas Day meals most often feature a type of meat. Turkey has become a popular option in recent times, while a stuffed capon is the more traditional choice. Other traditional Italian holiday meats are roasted rabbit, chicken, veal, ox, beef in red wine sauce, and roasted lamb with potatoes.


Most Italians typically do not eat dessert after every dinner. However, on Christmas Day it is traditional to have panettone, a sweet bread baked with candied fruit throughout. Alongside panettone, you may see torrone (a kind of nougat), panforte (a flat, dense, round cake), ricotta cheesecake, and various cookies and pastries.

The rich tradition of age-old Italian holiday recipes inspires the fresh flavors found here at Spizzico Italian Restaurant. And, don’t worry – you don’t have to wait for the holidays in order to enjoy classic Italian dishes with culinary influences from all over Italy. Come visit us today and try our Antipasto Tradizionale. We also have gnocchi made fresh daily from scratch using our Neapolitan family recipe. Also, our house-made egg fettuccine comes with 5 different choices of sauce. And, check out our other traditional Italian staples like lasagna and ravioli topped off with fresh, house-made mozzarella cheese.