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Chinese Food on Christmas Day

Of course now that Thanksgiving has passed I already have my sights on Christmas (bows head in too much holiday excitement shame). We have traditionally cooked a big meal on Christmas Day, but a few years ago when my family spent time with my lovely Jewish SO's family they introduced us to the Chinese food on Christmas Day tradition and it has stuck for a few years now. Does anyone else traditionally skip all the cooking and cleaning and have Chinese food on Christmas Day?

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  1. It's funny you mentioned this. We always went to my Aunt and Uncle's for Christmas. My uncle has since passed away, and my aunt is in a nursing home. Every Christmas we take her out to eat. I had just mentioned to my sister the notion of having Chinese food for Christmas and she was all over the idea. I think it will become a great tradition in my family from now on..

    1. We have done it but it has never stuck. While it was fun and a novelty we all seemed to miss the slow leisurely day at home w/ no real timetable to get out of our jammies, the kids like being able to stay and play with their toys, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodieX2

        Yea, ^^^. While I love Chinese food the thought of missing out on the cooking fiesta and all the good Christmas eats (though, in our house they are the same as the Thanksgiving eats but nonetheless craveworthy and delicious) sometimes makes me want to start a campaign for the old tradition, perhaps we should institute and even/odd year alternation.

      2. Go to NYC's Chinatown for Dim Sum or Dinner.....and you will give up Chinese Food on Christmas Day... The place is crazy

        : 0 )

        1. i love this idea, however we generally spend Christmas day with family and they would NEVER go for it. :\

          1. It's always been a Jewish tradition. And like most Jewish traditions, it has a practical base - Chinese restaurants were the only thing open on Christmas.
            We start our day by serving food at a soup kitchen in San Francisco, board games in the afternoon, Chinese for dinner and then a movie

            1. We observe the day by celebrating my spouse's birthday in the AM, then going out for Vietnamese.

              1. Anyone a fan of the movie "A Christmas Story"? Where they end up having Christmas Dinner at the local chop suey joint? Priceless.

                Actually, for us, Chinese takeout is our traditional "day after" holiday meal.

                1. Yes, every year.

                  And I'm not even Jewish.

                  In fact, with our family every day is like Christmas Day ...

                  1. Not for Christmas, but for Christmas Eve. We all gather at my nieces house. It has been a tradition to have take out Chinese.There will be twelve of us this year. It's fun.

                    1. Chinese food on Christmas Day - yep, Bacardi1, it definitely reminded me of "The Christmas Story" I saw many years ago :-)



                      1. Elena Kagan made a big deal and joke about it.

                        In fact the busiest times of most of the more popular Chinese restaurants are around the festivities...Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and of course Chinese New Year's eve/Chinese New Year's Day.

                        We've been trying to break tradition a few times by having Italian or American on Chinese New Year, just to avoid the crowds at Chinese restaurants. (where at times you get upsold the special banquet menu of pure mediocrity, like it was someone's wedding and the food was not so great).

                        1. Chinese and a movie....................American Jewish tradition for December 25. That's what's been open.
                          That said, the last 10 years a number of Turkish restaurants, and Turkish owned formerly Greek owned diners have opened in southern Connecticut giving us more choice. It's not there holiday either, and we minorities have to support each other.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bagelman01

                            We have Christian friends who do the movie theatre thing too!

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              This tradition is well known enough that there is a song about it


                            2. We found a great new takeout place this year so I need to decide how soon is too soon to call and inquire about Christmas hours...don't want to show my eagerness too much!

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                You can call and inquire if you want, but I've yet to find ANY Chinese restaurant that wasn't open on Christmas Day.

                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                  In our area there are a number of Chinese restaurants that are owned by Chinese Chjristians that are closed on Dec 25, though they are a very small minority

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    Probably safer to call our favorite place to find out if they are open I imagine? I assume they would know now. Otherwise, it might have to be plan B

                                  2. re: Bacardi1

                                    In Minnesota even the Chinese restaurants are closed on Christmas. My niece and her husband found that out a few years ago. They spent a decade living in California and developed a tradition of Chinese takeout for Christmas Eve dinner. I told them they're all closed and they didn't believe me. They might be open on Christmas Day however, I haven't checked.

                                    The question I have is aren't there any Jewish restaurants/delis open on Christmas?

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      According to this....There are only 150 Jewish Delis still open/remaining in all of North America.


                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        No no no. Oh my. Only 150 left? So sad.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Since the video was produced, Stage closed and Sarge's was hit with a fire.....a tough week for NYC Delicatessens

                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Ok, suddenly I want to find a Jewish deli in my area, but I am sure there are none...

                                            1. re: fourunder

                                              Ha ha ha . At 9:55: I am not a light weight here.

                                        2. re: John E.

                                          Kosher restaurants in major Jewish communities such as Brooklyn, Long Island, Northern NJ, Baltimore, etc are likely to be open on a non Jewish sabbath December 25.
                                          'Jewish' delis and kosher restaurants in smaller communities are likely to be closed, as they are more likely to be staffed by non-Jewish employees.

                                          Years ago when I was in the business, we operated our deli takeout counter on Dec 25, but closed our dining room. All of our waitresses were Christian and we wouldn't dream of asking them to work on their holy day. Our family covered the counter and register.

                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                            Baltimore has a large Jewish community, but also a big Catholic following as well so I will definitely check with the restaurant for Christmas Day and hopefully will not be disappointed and can cook up a storm on Christmas Eve and New Year's

                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                              I figured as such, and in many places, many of the customers are Christian as well. It's amazing when driving in Minnesota on Christmas Eve evening, absolutely nothing is open. You would have to look a long time to even find a gas station open, maybe near a freeway but that's it.

                                        3. My mother always prepared a large turkey dinner when she was at home. Now that she lives in an assisted living facility, when we aren't invited out, we go to a local Chinese restaurant and have crab. Love turkey, love crab too.

                                          1. One day I requested a pair of chopstick while dining at Zahav, the modern Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia. The manager told me that they only have chopsticks for their customers around X'mas time when they serve Chinese-style food. Isn't that interesting? Jewish restaurant serving Chinese food at X'mas time?

                                            To further illustrate the subculture of how some Jewish and Chinese people celebrate X'mas, one can find many of us on the ski slopes then. Not only because many of us try to get away from the gift exchanges and perhaps a lonely feeling, but also because we get to enjoy ski discounts at "off" season. Last year, in Vermont, after spending X'mas day at a ski resort, our gang ended up having diner at a local Chinese restaurant. The restaurant was CROWDED, the food was so-so, but the mood was jovial.

                                            So, if you are wondering about how to find folks to pass the holiday with, a ski slope lounge is a fine place to be in - bring your ipad and watch streamed movies/TV shows or your kindle to read some books. There wi-fi is avaiable and free. In the evening, hit a Chinese restaurant for noise and some "fa-ra-ra-ra-ra". It's not X'mas until I sing the song that way on X'mas day because I love the movie "A Christmas Story", too.

                                            1. I don't need to "go out" for Chinese food on Christmas Day. I often cook my own. It is an error to assume that *everyone* cooks (only) Western/Caucasian-USAmerican type food for Christmas, or that such food is "traditional". Traditional for whom? ;-)

                                              Here's a not-untypical menu for Christmas chez huiray, from a few years back, from notes I wrote then, spread out over the day and omitting the cookies and drinkies (alcoholic) from the listing:


                                              Mapo Tofu sans Chili:
                                              Sauteed julienned garlic, minced sirloin, crumbled firm tofu, Hoisin sauce, chopped green onions.

                                              Pan-seared & Stir-fried Napa Cabbage with Flor de Sal.

                                              Boiled basmati rice


                                              Harm Choy Tong

                                              Short-cut Pork Spare Ribs:
                                              Steamed with Garlic Black Bean Sauce, chopped garlic, sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms, topped with cilantro florets.

                                              Deep-Fried Tofu slices, with Lingham’s Hot Sauce.

                                              White Rice.


                                              Crab Cakes à la huiray, with blanched baby Bok Choy.


                                              Spinach in Clear Broth.


                                              Roast Leg of Lamb:
                                              With Flor de Sal, fresh ground pepper, garlic slivers; caramelized with peaches in syrup.

                                              Roasted fresh carrots.
                                              Klondike Red & Gold Potatoes.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: huiray

                                                Hey Ray,
                                                What time is dinner? I can pass on my cousin's turkey and oyster stuffing. He has a very traditional American Christmas meal, but his Thai wife usually makes a salad that includes toasted red chili peppers. In the good old days (before it was illegal and prohibitively expensive), his father made sharks fin soup.

                                              2. I am Jewish and that was not our family's tradition, nor did any of my other Jewish friends do that. Friends just hung out and then went home for a regular dinner.

                                                Where I live now, I have a Jewish friend whose family tradition was to have cioppino on Christmas Eve, and they opened all their Chanukah presents (no matter when Chanukah actually was).

                                                I might cook a special dinner (meaning, something more labor intensive) for my son but no other tradition for us.

                                                1. My family celebration rotates between Christmas Eve (day) and Christmas Morning plus we celebrate Roast Beast plus always a trip for dim sum.

                                                  1. <my lovely Jewish SO's family they introduced us to the Chinese food on Christmas Day tradition and it has stuck for a few years now>

                                                    Jewish celebrate Christmas with Chinese foods. There is something very funny about this.

                                                    Exactly what does it really means? Do the Jewish family MAKES the Chinese food? Do they order the Chinese food in? Do they go to a Chinese restaurant and eat Chinese food there?

                                                    I definitely have had Chinese food on Christmas.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Why is that funny?

                                                      It was traditionally the only places open on Christmas.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        I used to date a Jewish Girl.......every year on Christmas Day, she and I would get together with her family...which consisted of her maternal grandparents and their 3 daughters, who married three friends and their families. Her mother was one of the daughters and the aunts were the other two. The oldest daughter always used to complain that since they were Jewish it was not proper to get together in one of their homes on Christmas Day, as it was not their holiday. She found the idea ridiculous and offensive. The get together was was rotated between the Grandparents home and the daughters each year. Instead, she suggested they no longer host in the home, but rather go out for Chinese Food.

                                                        I guess by going out for Chinese Food, in her mind she was not celebrating Christmas.

                                                        I could never understand that.....brw, in my neck of the woods of Northern New Jersey....Greek Diners never close.

                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        It was explained to me that this is fairly common among Jewish families on Christmas to order Chinese takeout/delivery since they are usually the only restaurants open. I assume non-Jewish people can also have Chinese food either cooked or ordered if they would like on Christmas. From what I gathered, it's a well-known trend among Jews, though I could be mistaken.

                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                          Probably a very normal tradition for anyone who want to order anything on Christmas. That being said, Chinese restaurants are not the only places which open on Christmas. It is just that there are many more Chinese restaurants. Many Korean, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistan, Afghan ...etc restaurants are open on Christmas too. You get the idea. Many non-Christian restaurants are open on Christmas.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            As I said somewhere else on this thread, even the Chinese restaurants are closed for Christmas in Minnesota. My guess is that the majority of their customers aren't coming in or ordering takeout on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              <As I said sonewhere else on this thread, even the Chinese restaurants are closed for Christmas in Minnesota.>

                                                              Yep, I later read your above post. Good post.

                                                      3. Traditionally nope, we eat at home. Only once have I gone out for Chinese and that was when my mom was being a complete martyr over her Christmas meal and my sister and I left on a made up errand and didn't come back till late that night.

                                                        1. Someone posted this on his Facebook page :-D

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: klyeoh

                                                            Clearly, the Jewish God is not the same as the Christian God -- based on the post.

                                                          2. Sounds good to me. I mean, Why not!? Chinese food is great! Heck, I could eat it practically everyday. The Japanese have a tradition of ordering big buckets of KFC fried chicken for Christmas so I dont see anything inherently incorrect about having Chinese food on Christmas.... it may not be "traditional" but as long as your enjoying the meal and having a good time

                                                            1. Well, the Christmas holiday may be a week and a few days away but the crew is already gearing up. I have received several phone calls with requests as we like to call ahead of time to give the restaurant time to prepare our family too-large-for-the-number-of-people-eating order.

                                                              Any tips for day after leftovers? I always look forward to them similar to Thanksgiving leftovers but then somehow just abandon the reheating cause though I know that they tend to reheat well as my SO digs right in warm or cold.

                                                              1. My fiancé isn't Jewish but his family only celebrates on Christmas Day. They are very religious and church is for Sunday so unless Christmas is on Sunday it is not part of the celebration.

                                                                So he uses to do Chinese every Christmas Eve. My family is Italian so Christmas Eve is our big day. This makes the scheduling fairly easy but I feel bad because I know he misses his tradition.

                                                                1. We celebrate Christmas Eve nowadays with our Daughter in law and her catholic family.They always do Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve - it does get very lively, fun. Quite a change from the leisurely Fondue we used to do with our children....

                                                                  1. While not a Jewish family, we've def done all sorts of cuisines for Christmas.

                                                                    This year on Christmas Eve we're hosting a sushi party with the help of a local sushi chef. We all pitched in to hire him and anticipate a great night.

                                                                    If there are classic traditions for Christmas celebrating I'm sure I've never experienced one. We just don't roll that way.