Iurilli Family Traditions
Maundy Thursday -
(during Holy Week, which is the week
between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday)
We celebrate a Messianic Seder meal.
This includes using the traditional Jewish Haggadah ,
with Christian prophetic fulfillment elements added,
including the celebration of the institution of Holy Communion by Jesus Christ,
during his final Passover meal which has come to be known as the "Last Supper".
We serve lamb as the meal during the seder,
in honor of Jesus Christ,
who is "The Lamb Of God",
who came to earth so that our sins could be forgiven,
and to die in our place as a substitutionary atonement for our sins,
via the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Christmas Eve -
We celebrate The Feast of the Seven Fishes (festa dei sette pesci),
which is always celebrated on Christmas Eve,
also known as The Vigil (La Vigilia),
which is believed to have originated in Southern Italy.
Today, it is a completely Italian-American feast,
that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes.
Some Italian American families have been known to celebrate with 9, 11, or
even 13 different seafood dishes.
This celebration is a commemoration of the wait,
Vigilia di Natale,
for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.
The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the medieval
tradition of abstinence —
in this case, refraining from the consumption of meat or milk products—
on Fridays and specific holy days.
As no meat or butter could be used,
families would instead eat fish,
typically fried in oil.
The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is baccala (salted cod fish).
Reasons for celebrating with such a simple fish as baccala
is attributed to the greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy.
My grandparents Pasquale and Maria Iurilli,
as well as my father Michael Iurilli,
(all now deceased)
always included baccala,
but my immediate family does not.
The tradition of our actual family
virtually always includes shrimp,
flounder or other fillets,
usually stuffed with crab or lobster meat,
and stuffed clams,
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last update: 02/01/15