Today’s word is “vigilia’ in memory of the Christmas Eve vigil that is so important in the Italian family’s tradition. There is little I can write about La Vigilia that has not been written so many times already, except to say that it should be a time when we all undertake our own vigil…to look within to see how we might be better this next year.

Those who celebrated that feast in my childhood, though they may not have understood it completely, were rich in a tradition that came alive for us each year and helped us through the next. It was a night in bianco… in white…the white of the fish and the white of the symbol of Christ and purity. And that was reason enough to celebrate. We may have Americanized the holiday a bit with Santa, but we never forgot why the vigil. La Vigilia, a tradition that we may be losing a bit, will always help us remember our families. So look within this season; remember your family, undertake your own “Vigilia.”

Peter and I were thrilled when we attached the cards from Friends and family to our fireplace. It meant Christmas day was near. This picture was taken in 1947 and La Vigilia would soon be here.

Explore posts in the same categories: Stories of the 1940's and 1950's

3 Comments on “Vigilia”

  1. Joe Piccardi Says:

    I think there is a renewed interest in LaVigilia, I have been receiving emails with the explaination, and many non- italians friends wish to partake or begin there own vigilia. For me there is nothing like this time of year, I have been to three Pre Christmas Eve Vigilia’s already and am hosting my own on the 23rd, because my wife’s american family gathers on Christmas Eve with a different tradition, so I have my own several days or the night before Christmas Eve. It’s still great.

  2. Franne Donovan Says:

    I happen to know that your birthday falls on Christmas Eve. How did you feel about that as a child?

  3. Bernadette Verdile Says:

    As a daughter of an Abruzzese father, my husband and I have continued to prepare the traditional meal of seven fishes for La Vigilia. From baccala to stuffed calamari to fried smelt to zuppa di pesce–we have it all to introduce the newest generation to our Italian culture. What better way than through our wonderful
    cucina d’Italia!

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