Chinese food and movies: A Christmas tradition

I celebrated Christmas a day early last night. Not by gathering round a tree, exchanging gifts, or singing carols, though. As a secular Jew with no attachment to Christmas as such, my chosen rituals at this time of year are slightly different: namely, dinner at a Chinese restaurant followed by an evening at the movie theater.

For many American Jews, Chinese-food-and-movies is an annual Dec. 25 (or Dec. 24) tradition. It’s not exactly a holiday, but rather an optional, informal fun-having event that takes place at the same time as billions of other people are observing a holiday. Do I know how it got started? Not really. But I’m so glad that it did.

My fiancĂ©e and I celebrated this year with some spicy diced chicken with peanuts (delicious!) and The Young Victoria (not bad!). Who knows, we might go out for Chinese food and movies again tonight if the mood strikes us. Are any of you PopWatchers spending your Christmas the same way? If so, which movies are you seeing, and what dishes are you ordering? While you contemplate these weighty matters, check out Saturday Night Live‘s immortal “Christmastime for the Jews” skit below, featuring vocals from the great Darlene Love, for a satirical take on this phenomenon, among other things.

Comments (37 total) Add your comment
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  • mom

    Taught you well!

  • Heather

    Though I’m not Jewish, my family’s been doing the Chinese buffet and a movie on Christmas Day for years. 2009’s offerings included 4 kinds of shrimp and “Sherlock Holmes.”

  • Jean Genie

    I’m not Jewish, but I do love Chinese food. I’ve also had plenty of Jewish friends & coworkers do the thing on Xmas day. I still love Xmas, yet envy them.

  • Drew

    i don’t enjoy chinese food because i am moderately racist.

  • Caroline

    I celebrate Christmas, but my family gets Chinese take-out every Christmas Eve after church. It’s just easier then making dinner, which we have to do the next two days.

  • abc

    I’m not Jewish but every Christmas my family and I go a Chinese restaurant or get it take away and later watch Elf at home.

  • Sarah El

    I’m not Jewish, but I still love that tradition, even if my family doesn’t celebrate in such a manner. (I did make it to the movies yesterday though; no Chinese food :()

  • meredith

    We’ve been seeing movies on Christmas since I was a little kid (The Little Mermaid). This year we saw Up in the Air and last night we had Thai for dinner. Happy Movie Day!

  • JB

    We planned on cooking a nice dinner today, just my husband, daughter and I. However we woke to find an oven that wouldn’t work and just now found that every chinese restaurant within ten miles apparently felt the need to be closed. Add to that no grocery stores open. So I don’t know WHERE you guys are getting your chinese food but in the suburbs of Chicago, it’s not happening for me.

    Though we DID go see Princess & the Frog today! So at least we got one part of that equation right.

    • fancypants

      my sentiments exactly! also, i saw Princess and the Frog a few days ago and i loved it! an instant classic.

  • fancypants

    chinese restaurants are open on Christmas Day? now i’m really craving shrimp fried rice…

  • mark

    i always do the chinese food and movie tradition on xmas day. although lately i find that it’s not just jewish people out, but lots of weird antisocial people who have no family or are just single/lonely/depressed.

    • Reese

      I resemble that remark, Mark!! LOL

    • Jean Genie

      Umm, Mark, could we be a little less judgmental on people who are alone? Especially if not by choice?

  • CEV

    Chinese food for Christmas Eve and took the kids to Chimpmunks today…we were supposed to have a roast for dinner pulled it out of the frig and HELLO! Expired…husband didn’t check the date…Corn Dogs for dinner tonight! :)

  • Allison F

    Yes! As another secular Jew, I’ve loved Chinese food and movies on Christmas (or “What’s a Jew to Do Day”). In LA, it’s Yang Chow and then the Laemmle Sunset 5. Great times!

  • V

    Scorpion bowls yesterday with my friend to prepare for Christmas Eve dinner with our families. Opened presents this morning then went to “Nine” with my mom. Dinner = awesome homemade fried rice my dad cooked up for us. Now I’m barely conscious on the couch, trying to ease up on the baked goods, watching “The Breakfast Club” on cable. “16 Candles” is next!

  • Beth

    Mooshu chicken for me, shrimp and cashew nuts for the family, and Sherlock Holmes was the movie.

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