- The Premier Italian American Newspaper Since 1931 -
Dr. Angela Raimo

A Glimpse of How Dr. Angela Raimo Loves to Celebrate the Holidays

Professor of Education and Psychological/Legal – Seton Hall University

Dr Angela M. Raimo loved her career as a Professor of Education and Psychological/Legal areas at Seton Hall University for forty years. With a Doctorate in Education, she earned a Law degree and has been published widely in areas of forensic psychology and education.

University life was most remarkable, I feel privileged. To be in a faith-based, educational community was inspiring, intellectually stimulating and spiritually fulfilling.

For me, the most festive holiday of the year is Christmas and for Italians, Christmas Eve is a very special event. Christmas Eve means the Seven Fishes Dinner. The tradition is cherished among Italian Americans and the grandchildren of immigrants continue the practice with reverence, love and joy.

Precious memories of my beloved mother and aunts gathering in the kitchen to bake all of the cookies on one day and the dinner entrees on another day, will never be forgotten.

For dinner, my mother prepared smelts, coated in flour and sautéed, shrimp, baccala salad, baked or sautéed baccala, filet of flounder, stuffed “devil fish” (squid) in red sauce and linguine in anchovy sauce.  Now, we were sure that it was pleasing to God, even if too exotic for most children! Pasta was the first course and salad was served after the main course.

Dessert was homemade cookies – biscotti, knots, honey-glazed crispelles, ribbons of fried dough made to look like rosettes and honey glazed struffoli.

On this special night, we felt loved and secure while we listened to the sounds of chains on tires of cars on icy roads. We listened to Christmas carols on the radio or Frank Sinatra’s Christmas records played on the Victrola. Children’s voices were heard as they dashed through the kitchen, while dads and uncles gathered in the living room discussing the politics of the day. By Midnight, young adults went to Midnight Mass, while children were “nestled all snug in their beds.”

Christmas dinner featured home-made ravioli or lasagna, with lots of family time and plenty of love. Toys and games were shared among cousins and excitement abounded.

With no cell phones or computers, everyone interacted with conversation. While indoors, children played with games. If there was snow outside, all of the children would go outdoors to build snow men and igloos.  Of course, everyone was warned that they would poke an eye out if they threw snowballs. I can only imagine how many generations of children have been warned about that! Well, I can still recall that we took the risk anyway and aimed our snowballs at our beloved cousins, brothers and sisters, anyway! These are the memories that I cherish and even though I have had a full life and loved teaching, there is nothing that compares to Christmas as a child and the magical experiences of growing up in my Italian American family.