Food - Drink
Why Oyster Stew Is Eaten On Christmas Eve
By KAREN HART
In the United States, generations of immigrants have influenced almost every aspect of daily life, including holiday celebrations as well as the food that’s consumed on such days. In the 1850s, Irish immigrants introduced the tradition of eating oyster stew on Christmas Eve in the U.S.
Many Irish immigrants were Catholic, so they fasted from meat on Fridays and certain times before holidays, including Christmas, and would eat fish instead of beef or chicken. As a result, the immigrants created the oyster stew — a recipe that requires only oysters, milk, butter, and black pepper.
Before oysters, the Irish would use a fish called “ling” to make the stew, however, this “Atlantic cod” was not something they could find in the U.S. This eventually led them to oysters, which were inexpensive and available in vast amounts, and the stew quickly became associated with the Christmas season.