The Parkers eat "Chinese turkey."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
: Christmas Day bomber. Where were you at on Christmas Day?
Solicitor General and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan
: Senator... I assume the question you mean is whether a person who's apprehended in the United States—
Graham: (interrupting) Nah, I'm just asking where you were at on Christmas.
Kagan: (laughs) You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.
(Laughter from crowd)
Graham: Great answer!
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): I could just see that one coming...
It's Christmas! Hooray! Hoorah! Lights everywhere! Presents! Family gatherings! And to top it off, a massive home-cooked dinner.
You're Jewish (and not of the Informed
sect). Or Muslim. Or atheist. Or you're estranged from your family. Or you're a hungry Jehovah's Witness looking for a quick bite after the meeting. Or the dog just ate the massive home-cooked dinner.
Or you're just plain alone and bored. Whatever it is, the usual Christmas festivities are simply not possible for you. It's just another miserable winter's day, except that since you're off work, you have even less to do than usual.
What are you supposed to do? Well, you could go out...but virtually everything is closed.
There's that one Chinese place in town. It's still open! Grateful to find any
human contact, you order the Peking duck and gorge yourself. Bonus points if you bond with the owners despite a language barrier. It's a happy Christmas for you after all!
This has historically been Truth in Television
. It is almost a tradition in some (non-Orthodox) Jewish circles to eat Chinese and go to the movies on Christmas. Note that this generally does not
apply to chain restaurants serving Chinese food, which typically close for Christmas like everything else.
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- Referenced in the comic strip Stone Soup, with a Jewish character saying that the song "Jingle Bells" makes him hungry for Chinese food.
- One Marvel holiday story has The Thing and Kitty Pryde get all of the Jewish superheroes together and have a Chinese food feast.
- In Grimm Fairy Tales 2013 Holiday Edition, Sela, Liesel, Britney and Robyn end up ordering 'disgusting amounts' of food from General Tso's Chinese restaurant after their Christmas feast is destroyed in a battle with Krampus's minions.
- In Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1, Harley takes a Mall Santa out for dinner on Christmas Eve to thank him from saving her from a humbug that was stuck in her ear (It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context). The only place that is open is a kosher deli.
- In A Christmas Story, Mrs. Parker's turkey is eaten by the neighbors' dogs. Thinking quickly, Mr. Parker has them go out for Chinese, where they eat what Ralphie calls "Chinese Turkey" (really, Peking Duck) and sing Christmas carols with the owners.
- Subverted in The Santa Clause: After Tim Allen burns the Christmas Eve turkey, he tries to take his son to a Japanese restaurant. It's closed, so he takes him to a Denny's, which is filled with Japanese businessmen and fellow fathers who burned the turkey.
- Bostick in The Big Year.
Live Action TV
- The Saturday Night Live TV Funhouse sketch/song "Christmas for the Jews."
They can finally see King Kong without waiting in line
They can eat in Chinatown and drink their sweet-ass wine
- The Daily Show:
- Jon Stewart joked (while discussing Barack Obama's Nobel Prize) that Yasser Arafat got his Nobel Prize just for shaking hands with a Jew; and that if that was all it took to get a Nobel Prize, then, well, the owner of his local Chinese restaurant should get at least a dozen every Christmas.
- Also, this:
"Ben Franklin": And if I may ask, how do you celebrate Christmas?
Jon Stewart:(pause) Chinese food and a movie, you know...
"Ben Franklin": Oooohhhh-ho-ho-oohhh, oh yes, you're a Hebrew. From your name I thought you were of the house of Tudor.
Jon Stewart: I, uh, get that a lot...
- At the end of the House episode "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't," House and Wilson (who is about to go through his third divorce) go to House's apartment and order Chinese food on Christmas.
- An episode of The Bob Newhart Show has a Thanksgiving variant of this, with Emily leaving town to visit her parents and Bob staying home to spend the holiday getting plastered and ordering moo goo gai pan with Jerry, Howard, and Mr. Carlin. ("More goo to go!")
- Head of the Class also has a Thanksgiving version, with Mr. Moore (the teacher) spending the holiday alone and the usually-antagonistic Dr. Samuels (the principal) escaping his in-laws. They happen to choose the same Chinese restaurant to go to, and bond.
- Arrested Development: Not the holiday precisely, but a similar idea. The setting has two Punny Name restaurants. One is called Skip Churches and is a Sunday Brunch place where Christians go in lieu of church. The other is Miss Temple's, a Chinese restaurant frequented by Jews in lieu of synagogue.
- The main family of Out of Practice order Chinese food on Thanksgiving when their turkey accidentally goes out the window. This ends in a bit of a Brick Joke when the food arrives and the man delivering it complains that his bike hit a turkey in the road.
- On an episode of The Newlywed Game, host Bob Eubanks asked the couples what was the last Jewish food they ate. One husband answered "chow mein".
- A '60s novelty record by Tommy and the Greyhounds is titled "It's a Technicolor Christmas When You're Jewish (Because the Movie Houses Never Close)".
- The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping". The singer, a busy single woman, decides to do Christmas alone this year to unwind after a hectic year, while thinking back to a guy she met last year but could never connect with. At the end of the song, she heads out to "the only all-night grocery" for cranberries when she runs into the guy, who had decided to do Christmas alone this year as well. They end up celebrating together.
- Ska group Save Ferris did a cover of "Christmas Wrapping", re-writing the lyrics from the perspective of a Jewish person during the Christmas season.
- Straight No Chaser's "Christmas Can-Can". In the second verse one singer complains, "It's not fair if you're Jewish," and later adds, "I'm gonna get some Chinese food."
- YouTube musician Brandon Walker's breakout hit was about this, cleverly titled "Chinese Food on Christmas".
- During a Christmas special song-and-dance, Krusty and his dad get a part where they sing " Even though we're not Gentile we get together for a while, and shoot the breeze and eat Chinese, 'cos Christmas time is here! Oy!"
- Another episode referenced the trope with the Elderly Jewish Man remembering his childhood Christmas.
- In the 2013 Christmas Episode opening sequence, Krusty and other Jewish characters are seen eating at a Chinese restaurant.
- Briefly mentioned in the episode where Krusty gets his bar mitzvah — "On Christmas, you have to eat Chinese food" is treated as one of the rules of keeping kosher.
- In Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special there is a variant since the franchise is set on a furry version of Ancient China. Here, Mr. Ping runs a special Winter Festival party for all the lonely people with nowhere else to go, and pay extra for it.
- Implied in G.I. Joe: Renegades. Christmas comes and most of the Joes aren't in the Christmas spirit. Nicky Lee, a.k.a. Tunnel Rat explains his feelings toward Christmas to the other Joes by saying his family owned a Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn.
- At the Supreme Court hearing for Elena Kagan, she was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Christmas Day Bomber. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked her where she was on Christmas Day. She replied, "Like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant."
- Completely inverted in Japan's case, where since it is hard to find Christmas Turkey they simply have KFC for Christmas. And the KFC in Japan actually has people order ahead of time (3 months at least).
- This sign pretty much says it all.
- At least one Chinese restaurant in the historically Jewish Fairfax District of Los Angeles is certified kosher, so even Conservative or Orthodox Jews can enjoy.
- Discussed and inverted here on Not Always Right, when a group of Chinese-Americans decide to return the favor by going to a Jewish deli for lunch on Christmas. They become regular customers.
- Also a tradition for many Christian families who do celebrate the holiday, mostly stemming from a belief that Christmas should be a day off and no one should have to cook a massive dinner (other than those who are paid to do so).
- In countries with a big Muslim population, then whatever restaurants the local Muslims operate tend to take on this role, rather than Chinese - "Indian" (usually Bengali) in Britain, Morroccan in France, and so on.