My lack of blogging is inexcusable…but, to excuse it, Nonna and I haven’t really seen each other in two weeks between traveling, holiday parties and Nonna’s inability to watch anything but Spanish television between 9 and 11 pm.
Anywho…yesterday, a co-worker (hey Jim!) and I were talking about the origin of the Italian traditions of “7 fishes.” Jim happened to think it was a hoax, while I stood firm that it had some ties to the Bible and/or the Homeland. So, I took this friendly debate to “the source” – Nons.
Me: Nonna, where does 7 fishes come from?
Nonna: (hesitates) I am embarrassed.
Nonna: Because I don have no idea. In my hometown we is so poor we only get a bad apple on Christmas…fish?! No way. We go to church, we come home and if we lucky we have a piece of bread. So when I come on this country…everyone say, Marie – you doin seven fishes? So I pretend…I say “Oh…yea. I doin.” But, I don know whats it means. Even today.
Nonna: And I don know what number. Sometimes its 7, some they sayin 12…so every year I makin something different, 3, 4, 5, fishes but it just depend on who eatin on my house.
Me: So you don’t know what the fish symbolize?
Nonna: I have no idea. We was poor honey. We don have this rock em roll in Palermo.
Me: That’s dissapointing.
Nonna: I know. I gonna find out. Maybe my sister-in-law knowin…I let you know.
Me: Did you have any Christmas traditions in Italy?
Nonna: Honey, you don understand? We so poor. All we doin is go to Church at midnight, come back and everyone eatin because you no supposed to eat until Baby Jesus is born. I get one apple on Christmas…one bad apple. You lucky honey, you don even know.
Me: I do know.
Nonna: And I gonna tell you one more story…during world war II, we had a curfew. So we go to church early, but we set our clocks ahead so we pretend it was midnight.
Nonna: Yes. And we celebrate until the crazy Mussolini come get us.
Me: He didn’t come get you.
Nonna: I know, the story is better that way.
This last comment makes me question whether her stories are real…