When driving anywhere on Christmas Day, it’s common to see most restaurants and other business establishments with the lights turned off, doors locked, and no cars in the parking lot. That is because December 25 is the biggest holiday of the year for American Christians. However, not all Americans are Christians and many immigrated here from cultures that had holiday traditions of their own. This is particularly true of the Jewish community whose members have been frequenting Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day since the middle of the 1800s.
Why Jewish People Chose to Eat Chinese Food
Eastern European immigrants of Jewish descent were among the first to eat in Chinese restaurants during the Christmas holiday. Although Chinese food is non-kosher, Jewish diners felt comfortable eating it because of the way that chefs prepare and serve it. They do not mix meat with milk or use any type of dairy product, a fact that was important to the earliest immigrants. Another reason that Jewish people felt comfortable eating food served by Chinese people is that both groups experienced racism and low social standing in their new home country.
Eating Chinese Food on Christmas Now a Popular Tradition
Although this tradition may have started with Jewish immigrants and remained mostly with the Jewish community for many decades, people of all faiths or no faith enjoy dining in or ordering take-out from Chinese restaurants today. In fact, December 25 is the busiest day of the entire year for owners of Chinese restaurants and their staff. Christmas Eve is also very busy for these restaurant owners.
Even people who celebrate this holiday sometimes like to do something different such as eating at a Chinese restaurant for lunch and then catching a matinee at a movie theater that happens to be open. It’s an affordable and fun option for families. Many people also love the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Chinese restaurants on Christmas where they feel like a welcomed and appreciated guest.
Another reason this tradition has become so popular is that more people have realized they don’t want to spend the day cooking and cleaning up. They would rather socialize with family and others whom they have invited to their home for the day. Others bring Chinese take-out when they are a guest at someone else’s home for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
What Do People Like to Order?
In 2014, the restaurant delivery service GrubHub confirmed that their drivers are very busy bringing people Chinese food over the Christmas holidays. The 10 most popular items that people ordered through the delivery service include:
- Crab Rangoon
- Egg Rolls
- Fried rice
- General Tso’s chicken
- Hot and sour soup
- Orange chicken
- Pot stickers
- Sesame chicken
- Sweet and sour chicken
- Wonton soup
While this list might have changed somewhat in the last four years, one thing that hasn’t changed is that people love having Chinese restaurants open on Christmas Day. Restaurant owners should prepare for even more business this year and in the years ahead as more people discover the convenience of this holiday dining option.