Eating Chinese Food on Christmas is not frum

Jewish-ChristmasI didn’t know from this Chinese Food Christmas minhag until I first met non-religious Jews. All I can remember from the Christmas of my youth is asking our doorman if we could take candy canes off of our lobbies tree, smelling the sweet pine scent from the trees being sold on Broadway, and wondering whether it was our families minhag to say Xmas or Crochtzmas. When I first heard about the minhag to eat Chinese Food on Christmas it made no sense to me, yet everyone told me that their families have been doing it since they came to America. Upon further research, I found out that Jews who didn’t keep kosher had nothing to do on Christmas eve and since it was their minhag to eat treife, they couldn’t find any restaurants besides Chinese that were open on the yuntiff. 

This reminds of the time I was in Ohr Someyach on Yom Kippur, my roommate and some other kids were starving and since everything was closed in Jerusalem, they decided to hit up East Jerusalem in search of some open places. I assume that whoever didn’t become a super frummy from the Ohr Someyach indoctrination program, still keeps this as their Yom Kippur morning minhag. However, as we can see with eating Palestinian cuisine on Yom Kippur, Chinese Food on Christmas is not a frum minhag. It was obviously created at a time when there was little kosher food available, because as far as I know, all kosher restaurants are open on Christmas.

For many Jews, eating Chinese Food is one of the only obviously religious things they do all year, so maybe we should let them pound treife food in an effort to stem assimilation and intermarriage. After all, there was a subsection of the Pew Survey that made it clear that those Jews who ate Chinese Food on Christmas were 3 times more likely to marry Jewish than those who ignored the tradition. Those who ignore the tradition are more likely to celebrate Christmas in some way and that will further remove them from the Jewish people.

While it';s fairly obvious to see that frum Jews are probably not eating Chinese Food on Christmas, it isn’t right to simply brush off this important minhag. Just because something isn’t necessarily frum, doesn’t mean it’s bad. May we be zoche to see our frum brethren more accepting of not necessarily frum minhagim.

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  • Dave
  • tesyaa

    You’ve read Portnoy’s Complaint, haven’t you? Great little riff in there about Jews and Chinese restaurants. He points out (sociologically, of course :/) that to Jews facing discrimination, the Chinese people were just about the only ethnic group to which they could feel superior. To the Chinese waiter, Jews are just a type of big-nosed Gentile.

    If you haven’t read Portnoy’s Complaint, you must do so immediately.

    • A. Nuran

      I’d love to meet Alexander Portnoy. But I wouldn’t shake hands with him

  • http://www.starofdavida.blogspot.com Talia bat Pessi

    I thought that Jews eating Chinese on Christmas was a joke and not an actual thing until recently. All the kosher Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas day, so perhaps we can make it a frum minhag…

    • Anonymous

      Yea only with crappy Jewish Chinese food….

  • Jew with Chinese Spouse

    The question I have is do I make my brachas in Hebrew or Mandarin or Cantonese or all three? Do we bench before or after opening the fortune cookies? As a non-Frum secular Jew with a Chinese wife (CBC) I can write with honesty that many of the things Jews tend to value, Chinese culture values too. There are a lot of similarities…including irritating mother-in-laws, manipulative guilting by family members, etc. The similarities are stunning. The Chinese also seem to have a holiday every week with a reason to drink hard liquor. There is also a Chabad House in Shanghai, PRC – been there, done that. So they will be eating Chinese food there on X-mas and it will be kosher. You folks need to realize that Chinese people are basically (from a cultural standpoint) just Jews with better food. The food is better. I’ll take the chicken and cashews or steamed dumplings over cholent or chopped liver every time.

    • Big nose slanted eyes

      And the women are hotter and but equally frigid.

      • Jew with Chinese Spouse

        I would disagree with this. This is my second marriage. First was to a frummie (who has “issues” about sex but that does not mean all frummies do).
        I met my wife in China and while I think she is totally hot and absolutely gets MILF status by the looks she gets when we go out…she “gets it” that men are basically emotional stuck in concrete operational thought and we think the world revolves around our genitalia and obtaining sex. Having been with both (several) Jewish and Chinese – and other Asian – women I would not want to stereotype. But I am going to anyhow. :-) I would offer that the most asexual, “frigid” women are from Japan or South Korea. Despite the plethora of Japanese porn available, most Japanese women I have met (in Japan) are not the least bit interested in sex…at least with me. Same for those in Seoul. Thailand, Vietnam, China…different story. Most of these women have come to the realization that if they don’t have sex with their husbands someone else will. The difference with Jewish women is they don’t want to have sex with their husbands (or anyone) and don’t care if someone else will so long as they are kept up in the lifestyle they are accustom to. This is my experience. YMMV. Although for sure, my experiences in my youth with the girls from the Jewish summer camps tells me that something magical happens to them when you put a gold ring on their finger…that old adage about the Jewish bride smiling as she walks towards the huppah because she knows she has given the last BJ she will ever have to rang true for me. So I went OTD. And am much happier now. However, I do miss a lot of the cultural aspects and I intend to discuss Judaism and Buddhism with our kids when they are old enough to understand both from a theological and philosophical perspective. There are obviously many hot, sexy frummies with insatiable libidos. I just had the misfortune of choosing one who had no libido after she got a ring and an extravagant wedding. Maybe we should have served egg rolls and crab rangoon as appetizers???

      • Jew with Chinese Spouse

        LOL! Uhm, having an ex-wife who is/was from and current wife who is Chinese I can write unequivocally that you’re spot on with the “hotter” remark and completely wrong with the “frigid” remark. Chinese women know that if they want to keep their men from straying outside the bedroom they need to be “reasonable” inside the bedroom. YMMV. As for me? OTD with the Chinese wifer and I am loving it. Two beautiful children with her (a set of twins, Boruch HaShem) who will probably end up as JewBu’s. Or whatever they want to be honest, they will find their own derech and so long as they are ethical and moral people who really embrace tikkun olam and g’milut chassidim as a responsibility of ALL people – not just Jews – then I think it all will have worked out in the end. As for me? Looking for dim sum
        on “Chrimmus morning” with the wife, my kids, her family and the like.

        I can’t speak for all frum women being frigid. My ex-wife was certainly not.
        Neurotic? OK! Paranoid? Yes. And worst of all she could not cook to save her life, everything was overcooked, blanched and tastes like shoe leather.

        Marry a Chinese gal = eat well. Heck, I gained 40+ lbs since we got married!!!

        My treif never tasted better. Look, if you’re going to go OTD then you might as well do it the “right” way and eat well.

        • Shmuel Dicksteinawitz

          Agreed, I’m OTD now too and if I ever need a 2nd wife I will def never go Jewish again ;)

        • tesyaa

          I think the famed Tiger Mother’s husband attended Jewish Day School, so you are certainly in good company. Get your wife to write a best-seller in 8 weeks and neither of you will ever have to work again.

  • JustHavingFun

    Naturally Chinese on 12/25 is the minhag du jour. But you forgot to mention the other part of the celebration: go to the movies!!!

    • Dumpster Diva

      I agree. Even on Thanksgiving we went to the theatre and out for Chinese when I was a kid.
      This place had a Chinese Buffet on Xmas. It was really good.

      https://www.facebook.com/thegrillesd

      There was also a Kosher Chinese place downtown which was just a block away from the Fox Theatre. Great for Thanksgiving or Xmas – fed our HUGE family for nix.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Movies are assur

  • Alter Cocker

    I had no exposure to Chinese/movies because I grew up in a religious neighborhood.

    I first heard about it on the Internet and I figured it was some stupid stereotype.

    The logic doesn’t even make sense to me. Sure, if you have to go out to eat, I guess you need to go get Chinese, but who goes out to eat every day?

    As for the movies, people had nothing else to do? I just don’t understand the need to go out specifically on X-mas. I obviously never celebrated X-mas and it was just another day. I ate at home, and read books or surfed the web.

  • JS

    Schmuck. I’d eat Chinese on Yom Kippur if I had the likes of you eyeballing me and judging my diet.

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