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Chinese Food and Christmas!

Today is Christmas and I am making my annual pilgrimage.... to the movies and a Chinese restaurant! I've also sometimes gone to the Bronx Zoo which is amazing as we have almost the entire park to ourselves. I just always find it so funny how this has become a pseudo- Jewish ritual:}

Does anyone else who is not Christian have a similar ritual?

To everyone who is, Merry Christmas!

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  1. maybe because the UK lagged behind for so long that nothing was open for Christmas and even still it's maybe just a corner shop for 4 hours or so or a gas station, that many British Jews make Christmas lunch, including turkey, stuffing, Xmas pud and mince pies. I remember our (Glatt) Kosher butcher telling my mother that he sells hundreds of Kosher turkeys the week before Christmas, 2 kinds of stuffing and lots of sausages and sausage meat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smartie

      Smartie, I've noticed the same thing in France, though the meal choices are far more varied and often include smoked salmon. I'd often wind up spending Christmas with secular Jewish and Muslim friends, as France is so secular (though of course there are religious people of all religions). I have a friend in Paris who is strictly kosher, but she wouldn't eat most Chinese or Vietnamese food as there is obviously pork and searood present. I've never seen the attitude there of Asian food as "Kosher Treif".

      My family is nominally Catholic but utterly non-observant/lapsed.

      Nicole, different societies have different attitudes about the role of government regulations in terms of business hours. Many think it is up to government to ensure workers have days off to celebrate or simply rest - I'm thinking of democratic countries in Western Europe, not of any kind of "authoritarian" government. Canada is somewhere between the US laisser-faire attitude and the more regulatory attitude in many European countries. I've noticed VERY limited shopping hours when working in the Netherlands and in Germany.

    2. Officially Christian but definitely not a church goer, my spouse and I are going out for dim sum today. For a change, I'm not travelling for the Holidays, so it's just the two of us and I didn't want to cook a traditional Christmas dinner for two so that's why we're going out.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chow Penguin

        we are also Christian decent Chinese-on - Christmas fans. Now to find a place in our new home, San Diego...
        I did cook a turkey dinner for Christmas Eve but love Chinese on Christmas.

      2. Like most Brits, we've had a festive lunchtime feast. Like most Brits, religion plays no part in our day.

        Our archaic law means today (as Easter Sunday) is a day when few commercial enterprises are legally able to open. Perhaps in due course, it will catch up to the fact that less than half of us claim an adherance to any religion and only some 10% of the population are active participants.

        I've just driven through the village centre. The only places open were two of the Indian restaurants.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Harters

          I remember being in Iceland during Easter. My travel agent had failed to warn me that almost nothing would be open. I was thankful to find a supermarket so I could eat. I agree that these laws are archaic; if a business owner wants to close up shop it should be their choice, not the government's. Especially on holdiays when there are many people looking for anything to be open.

        2. Well, we were supposed to leave today to go see our parents for two days of ham dinners and bad salad, and the family picture we always have to take a half-dozen times because I always close my eyes. But my boyfriend's soul-sucking harpy of a boss informed him that it was 'mandatory' that managers work Christmas eve, Christmas day, and the TWO DAYS following. She waited until the 23rd to inform him, even though she has had his holiday schedule in her possession for the last two weeks. That's right, we got scrooged. I had to call my mother and tell her that we weren't coming until Wednesday, the day after both of my brothers leave town. Maybe you heard her outraged screech from there?

          So, he's at work, I'm home (with a freshly cleaned out fridge, because we were leaving town) and feeling a bit blue . . . and then I remembered. People eat Chinese food on Christmas day! It's a little ritual enjoyed by many who do not partake in the ham dinner! I don't have to make bread-less, cheese-less onion soup for Christmas dinner, and serve with Triscuits, and canned black olives!

          And this has lifted my spirits immeasurably. We will eat Chinese food, drink whiskey, and watch It's a Wonderful Life in front of our Christmas tree.

          4 Replies
          1. re: onceadaylily

            I'm sorry to hear about your boyfriend. Enjoy your chinese, whiskey and christmas tree though! I must admit- while I love my menorah, I've always wished that Jews had something equivalent to a tree. (I don't do a "channukah bush"- it has no meaning).

            1. re: NicoleFriedman

              Nicole - Do a tree anyway. The tree isn't about baby Jesus - it's about light. I am Christian by birth, but not religious in any way and I love my tree. Sitting in your home on a cold dark night with the tree lit up - it really helps sustain a person through the dark time of year. Same goes for pine boughs and candles/lights throughout the house. And the smell is delicious.

            2. re: onceadaylily

              OADL - that absolutely SUX. i am so sorry to hear that. what a total Grinch your BF's boss is! I hope you had the best Chinese food ever, and warmed up your souls by the whiskey and the movie.

              my sister and i were ready to board the chinese-for-xmas-day train but my dad (catholic bolivian) thought it was insane. so.... we did the movie, and ate leftover ham. someday.....

              1. re: mariacarmen

                Ha, I, too, come from catholics. The catholics and their damn ham. The Chinese was as it always is, delicious at first, and then coma-inducing.

                I refuse to blame the whiskey.

            3. Movies and Chinese for many years. Also since the casinos have opened in Connecticut, there is far more choice. For years now before noon Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are full of Jewish and Asian patrons. After noon there is a large influx of Christians in holiday garb.

              This year there are far more choices of places to go out on Christmas. I know of more than a dozen good restaurants that were open last night for dinnere and drinking. This morning I went around the corner to Dunkin Donuts with the kids. First year they're open.

              This afternoon we're going to the movies, followed by Chinese for supper with my wife's family. My mother is around the corner in a Catholic named nursing rehabilitaion center for some short term theraphy after a fall, so I brought her Matzo Ball soup for Friday night supper. She and her old school Italian roomate enjoyed it. Turns out the roommate owns an Italian restaurant nearby and she informed me that her family would be catering lunch today for my mother and herself. All kinds of baked pastas, salads and prime rib. Much better than nursing home fare.

              1. Oh WHY didn't I think of this? Got Chinese last week which I haven't had in oh, so long.....

                Not Jewish and no longer Catholic here.....re-defining still what I love about Christmas - may have to make Chinese part of my new traditions! Still have leftover fried rice - will have to have some in a bit now....

                1. Sometimes we'll do the big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, we'll have extended family over for brunch. By the time dinner rolls around, I haven't planned anything, or don't have the energy to make another meal so we go out for Chinese food because they're often the only places open. It's funny that you talk about it being a pseudo-Jewish ritual. A lot of my friends who are Jewish talk about how it's a ritual to go out for Chinese after fasting for Yom Kippur, too.

                  1. I am not Christian, nor Jewish.

                    But always have Chinese during Xmas (as well as Xmas eve).

                    1. We had 18 for Chinese dinner last night after seeing The FIghter. It is our annual ritual and has grown to include four families. So much fun and, as much of a ritual for Jewish families as some others that we have! It mirrors some of the important Jewish values, good food, family values, and fellowship. Loads of fun!

                      1. Our tradition is also Chinese food and in our relatively small city you stand a much better chance of getting a minyan at a Chinese restaurant on Dec. 25 than in synagogue on most other days.

                        The Spouse is off with some guy friends for a few days and the Offspring wasn't too excited about going out today. Either way, one of the neighbors felt sorry for me being "alone" on Xmas and had the two of us over for a holiday meal. I truly appreciate her thoughtfulness and generosity in including us in a family meal, but I still kinda miss the Chinese food.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: rockycat

                          I'm so disappointed. My hubby and I had tickets to Harry Potter (no offense to any HP fans but I saw this film purely out of love for my husband:} ) and tried to find any decent place to eat nearby before the film.... due to lack of parking we ended up at an Applebees. Oy vey.

                          1. re: NicoleFriedman

                            Oh MAN is that anti-climactic or what! so sorry. go out tomorrow and pretend today never happened, and have yourself a chinese feast!

                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              We're ordering in Chinese tonight- woohoo! We're in NYC so we're trapped due to the snow.

                              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                yay - count your mixed blessings!! ( :

                        2. Whenever I'm not compelled to make the six hour drive home, the boyfriend and I have had a long-standing tradition of doing Chinese food on Christmas day... and we did it yesterday as well. Always such an interesting mix of people. And, we're both Christian. It seems like those are the only restaurants open other than the massive Christmas-themed buffets at the casinos and the hotels.

                          1. We went to a steakhouse last night (we go every year) and a man was very loudly proclaiming that they were the only Jews in the place. How he could tell that I don't know???? Our local Chinese place was packed!! Alot of places here opened for Christmas day as it was a Saturday and they couldn't afford to lose the business.

                            1. My family (Jewish) always went to the movies (sometimes my parents and I went to a double feature!) and then Chinese food. When I met my husband and we were dating and then married, we did the same thing. Once we had kids, it was not so easy to do that.

                              So for the past 6 years (our kids are 6 ad 4) we have gone to the original Nathan's in Coney Island for lunch and the to the NY Aquarium which is only a few blocks from Nathan's. Yesterday it was not too cold, so we also took a brief walk on the boardwalk (albeit very brief!).

                              Then we came home and had Chinese food for dinner.

                              1. It's not so much funny as logical. We (Jewish family) grew up going out for Chinese food on Christmas because the Chinese restaurants were all that were open. We could have stayed in, but it is a day off from work and school and a federal holiday, so why not go out. In our family, as in many, it's a two-parter: Chinese food then a movie.

                                I supposed now that money rules more than ever, there are more businesses open on Christmas Day. I haven't checked, but were WalMart or Target open on Christmas for last-minute gift shoppers?

                                1. Yes, we get a group together for a Chinese or Indian lunch, then go to a movie. Every year. Some of us are Jews, like me, some are used-to-be Christian. I've never considered the zoo and don't know if the Los Angeles Zoo is open on the 25th, but I'll find out.

                                  1. Not religious at all, but we did Christmas when I was a kid... in the most Americanized/non-religious way possible.

                                    I am not really a fan of Christmas. I don't have (or know any) kids, so I don't feel compelled to do the whole thing. I just kind of opt-out of it every year. So, for the past 5 years I have gone with either friends or a significant other to LA's Chinatown. Great place to be if you don't like Christmas, because it's just business as usual there. Since movies are the only activity that seems to be open, that's become part of the tradition, too.

                                    Until I have kids, my biggest holiday stress will be remembering not to eat too much Slippery Shrimp, and to save room for popcorn.

                                    1. Jewish Christmas Eve is a ritual with me and my friends. Dinner at a particular restaurant here in Boston's Chinatown, followed by a drink at a local watering hole. The restaurant is usually packed that night, with all the Jews from the suburbs. We arrive at 9pm, at the tail end of the crowd. It's always a fun evening.

                                      1. We used to go out for Chinese food and a movie with friends every Xmas eve. Turns out one year, friend of mine couldn't get a babysitter and decided to have us all over and make the dinner herself. She's a great cook and we look forward to home cooked Americanized Chinese food every year... it's become a tradition!

                                        1. I was raised Catholic, although am no longer religous. We always did the tree, decorations, full meal and I still do all of that to keep tradition. Although we have ordered Chinese in the past. I guess it depends on our plans, if and how many guests we have. With the little time off work and a short period of time to see family/friends it's hard to spend it in the kitchen cooking so I prefer the ordering out when we can, although the traditional meal is nice too and brings back great childhood memories. This year we had Chinese for Christams Eve and traditional meal (well duck instead of turkey) for Christmas dinner.