People love to celebrate the holidays and one way in doing that includes having a great dinner with the family. Be it either Christmas, Christmas Eve or New Years, families come together to share traditional holiday meals they create. I think that we all love to talk about it as well - both the people and the food. I've listened to my friends tell me about ham and turkey holiday dinners. I've never had a holiday dinner like that. Our dinners have always been Italian. Not the traditional full 7 fishes, but lots of different favorites that through my Italian heritage we bring a Italian American holiday dinner to the table.

Here are 5 classic dishes that Italian families include on their holiday menus.

1. Chicken/Eggplant Parmigiana

basil, cheese, beef, tomato, meat, vegetable, eggplant, sauce, lasagna, Italy, Italian food, European food
Julia Gilman

Starting in Italy, this classic dish is now a very well-known dish that has completely become a stable for some families.  This dish is known for taking on different variations over the years and in many countries. In the United States, parmigiana is usually made three different ways; chicken, veal, or eggplant.

Made with traditional Italian spices, Tomatoes, and sometimes a side of linguine, parmigiana in any form has become a household favorite as well as apart of our Italian American holiday dinner .

2. Chicken Marsala

chicken, curry, pork, meat, vegetable
Elizabeth Layman

Let's start with a fun fact; not every Italian dish has red sauce. Chicken Marsala is one of those dishes that gets all it's flavor from the white wine sauce, which is more of a darker sauce.

From Sicily ,It is a simple recipe of chicken, wine, spices and mushrooms. It's an alternative to parmigiana when it comes to it's flavor and color palette but is still fulfilling. thus being able to stand out as a perfect non-tomato main dish at the Italian American holiday dinner.

3. Penne Vodka

tomato, sauce, spaghetti, vegetable, penne, pasta
Caroline Ingalls

The simplistic idea of Penne Vodka only makes the dish fascinating. Assembling this dish usually will take under 30 minutes to make but the enjoyable flavors of the tomatoes or vodka cream sauce will make you feel like your in Italy.

Penne Vodka is commonly known as a dish that is very family friendly as we grew up taking a liking to the straight forward idea that the dish brings to our Italian American holiday dinner. It's made to not over power your taste buds while also making sure to keep you satisfied. 

4. Stuffed Mushrooms

Julia Benson

Apart from the previous dish where Mushrooms was a sidekick, it becomes the star of the plate. Just like the parmigiana, there are different variations of the mushrooms since the fillings can be a combination of different ingredients and flavors.

Stuffed Mushrooms have been seen as either an appetizer for parties or the main course of a Italian American holiday dinner but it does not hinder on how popular this dish is to my family's table.

5. Mussels in Garlic Sauce 

seafood, shellfish, mussel, fish, vegetable, sauce
Josh Stern

I know I said that we don't do the the 7 fishes dinner, but there is always one or two. A favorite is mussels with red sauce. Its simple and easy to cook, red sauce, mussels, olive oil and a little garlic. It becomes a great way to start the night of the Italian American holiday dinner, where people sit around the table talking, eating and seeing who gets the last mussels. Its easy, simple and demands lots of napkins.

To an Italian, family is an important stable to achieving happiness. The Holidays are meant to be a time where we all can get together with out families and get together to enjoy each others company. Though the food that we can create and pass down, it creates a bonding experience that we can share with others and show them why we love what we create and eat.