Why is having fettuccine alfredo a christmas eve tradition

It appears as though any tradition of having fettuccine Alfredo on Christmas Eve has been carried out mainly in some families of Italian descent, but it's also probably because the dish is fairly easy and quick to make - and on the night before what is generally one of the busiest cooking days of the year for many families, a dish like that is important. It doesn't appear that it's been a terribly widespread tradition historically, though.

However, the Christmas fettuccine tradition seems to have taken on a new life in recent years, probably mainly thanks to a scene in the 2006 Nancy Meyers film The Holiday in which Kate Winslet hopes to cheer Jack Black up by offering to make "Christmas fettuccine" for him. We expect that movie scene may be where very much popularity of Christmas or Christmas Eve fettuccine outside of the Italian-American community stems from.

Here's a version of chef Giada De Laurentiis' fettuccine Alfredo recipe if you'd like to give it a whirl - it only takes ten minutes to make!


18 oz. fresh fettuccine
2 1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
12 T. unsalted butter
2 c. grated Parmesan
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt & freshly ground white pepper


1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender (but still firm to the bite). Stir occasionally, cook for about 4 minutes, then drain.
2. Stir 2 cups of cream and the lemon juice in heavy large skillet to blend. Add butter; cook over medium heat until butter has just melted for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
3. Add pasta; toss. Add remaining 1/2 cup of cream and Parmesan to cream sauce in the skillet. Add lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Toss pasta mixture over low heat for about 1 minute until sauce thickens slightly. Serves 6-8.

Learn how to make rich and creamy Fettuccine Alfredo that won't weigh you down at Seriouseats.com.