The table may be set up for a sit down dinner such as the one above
Or set out as a buffet. The above buffet boasts mostly fancy dishes but in our house the buffet was made up of Anchovy Pasta, Breaded Fried Smelts, Bacala Stew, Tuna Fish Casserole, Shrimp Cocktail, and Crab Cakes. Much plainer dishes but always enough to serve both family and any guests who might come to the door. It is a night to feast and rekindle family ties and friendships.
It was always a challenge to bread the smelts and fry them. More recently, I found the smelts already breaded in the frozen section of Labriola's Italian Store. Even if you don't live in Pittsburgh, you can find this store online for easy purchasing.
The Anchovy Pasta, was never a favorite of my children but my father-in-law loved it and until he moved to North Carolina, I continued to make it just the way Nunny showed me the first Christmas that it was my turn to host Christmas Eve. I later replaced the Anchovy Pasta with pieces of fried fish.
Speaking of Nunny she told many tales of making eel for the feast as well as other delicacies from the sea.
My husband's family set out thirteen dishes on the table, seven of which were fish, to signify the Lord and Disciples at the Last Supper. We have changed what we serve over the years since my husband passed but we still celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve and don't eat meat.