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Peking Duck Christmas

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Sen. Lindsay Graham: Nah, I'm just asking where you were at on Christmas.
Solicitor General Elena Kagan: (laughs) You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.
(Laughter from crowd)
Graham: Great answer!
Sen. Patrick Leahy: I could just see that one coming...
Sen. Chuck Schumernote : They're the only places open.
— Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, 2010

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 Hindu. Or atheist. Or The Grinch. Or you're estranged from your family, or you simply don't have a family. Or you're a hungry Jehovah's Witness looking for a quick bite after the meeting. Or a pack of dogs just ate the massive home-cooked dinner. Or you need a quick solution because you either burned the roast when you attempted to use Oven Logic, or it's still frozen solid because you (or your less domesticated spouse) failed to take it out of the freezer in a timely manner. Or you're just plain alone and bored. Or you're going to be out of town for several days and don't want to waste the food.

Whatever the reason, the usual Christmas festivities are simply not possible for you. It's just another miserable winter's day, except that because you're off work (if you're lucky) 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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    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Referenced in the comic strip Stone Soup, with a Jewish character saying that the song "Jingle Bells" makes him hungry for Chinese food.

    Fan Works 
  • "Here to Stay is a New Bird" (a TRON universe fic), Alan and Lora bail on the awful Encom Christmas party and end up in "the most traditional restaurant for a Christmas gone wrong cheap, hole-in-the-wall Chinese"
  • In the Narbonic-Skin Horse fic "To Grandmother's Secret Lab We Go," Nick the Jewish cyborg helicopter complains that a Christmas rescue mission "has totally flaked with my busy schedule of watching movies and eating virtual lo mein."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Bostick in The Big Year.
  • 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.
  • An early example in The Miracle Of The Bells. A press agent meets a young actress on Christmas Eve who's far away from friends and family, and offers to spend the evening with her. Naturally, the only place open is a Chinese restaurant, and they turn out to be the only two customers, so the the kindly and wise proprietor welcomes them in and offers them sage advice and astonishingly appropriate fortune cookies.
  • Subverted in The Santa Clause: After Scott Calvin 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, at least one of them has bandages from hurting himself.

  • In American Psycho, while on his way to a Christmas party, one of Patrick Bateman's associates alarms him of the growing influence of Japan and Japanese business in America. After this, Bateman feels compelled to murder the first Japanese bike messenger he sees and dump food his victim was carrying on top of his body, only to discover in doing so that his victim was actually Chinese, delivering food to a certain Sally Rubinstein.
  • In Ethan, Suspended the title character mentions this as a family tradition.
  • A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain: "Snow" is about a Vietnamese woman working as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant, who gives a man an order of chicken on Christmas Eve. She's surprised to hear that he doesn't celebrate Christmas, because he's Jewish. She thought all Americans celebrated Christmas and reflects on how Vietnamese celebrate every holiday no matter what their religion is.
  • Lampshaded in Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. Biff recalls eating Chinese food on Joshua's birthday while they were studying with Balthazar the alchemist, and remarks that Jewish people in the modern world seem to have kept up this tradition.

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: Not the holiday precisely, but a similar idea. The setting has two Punny Name restaurants. One is called "Skip Church's" 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.
  • 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!")
  • Like many tropes about Jewish families, this one showed up in Brooklyn Bridge. The Berger/Silver family had Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant and the grandfather, utterly unsure of what blessing to say over the meal, settles for "Boruch ata... Chinese food."
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • At the end of the House episode "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't," House (an asshole who wouldn't want to attend any Christmas event he was invited to) and Wilson (who besides being Jewish is about to go through his third divorce) go to House's apartment and order Chinese food on Christmas.
  • 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".
  • The Christmas Episode of Odd Squad, "Reindeer Games", features Olive, Otto, Santa Claus and Lloyd (Santa's right-hand elf) chowing down on some Chinese food while Olive and Otto try and find the missing reindeer. Otto in particular, however, doesn't stop at Chinese food for a holiday meal — he eats gingerbread, eggnog, and half of Santa's workshop.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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."
  • 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 a Jewish perspective.
      What's a Jew to do today?
      L.A. is a ghost town
      Looks just like another year
      Of movies and Chinese food
  • YouTube musician Brandon Walker's breakout hit was about this, cleverly titled "Chinese Food on Christmas".

    Puppet Shows 
  • In The Puzzle Place's holiday special, the Jewish Jody cites going out for Chinese food and the movies as her family's typical activities on Christmas Eve.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • In Robin Williams' special Live On Broadway, during his monologue about the Bible, he humorously imagined Jesus having the Last Supper in a Chinese restaurant.
    Robin: And if he was Jewish, and many of his Disciples were Jewish, for the Last Supper, would they not have gone out for Chinese? I think so. (in Chinese accent) "Welcome to Yahweh. Hold on, no service, no sandal, okay, you can come in now. Hold on, you have twelve. All I got is 2 tables of six right now. They're not together... Wait a minute, I got one big table by the window, but you all have to face this way. All right. You are glowing, so I guess we don't need that lamp, that's very nice! And you've just turned a Szechuan chicken into a live chicken, you're very good!"


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Arthur's Perfect Christmas, Francine and her family are shown having takeout Chinese for dinner after celebrating the last night of Hanukkah the night before. When she and Muffy later reconcile after an earlier fight, Francine's family invites Muffy and her parents to the movies. Also Brain and his family are still at work at the ice cream shop because they celebrate Kwanzaa.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Happens at the end of Milo Murphy's Law's Christmas Episode when most of the cast ends up snowed in at the mall during a blizzard.
  • The Simpsons
    • 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.

    Real Life 
  • 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 it's so hard to find Christmas Turkey that they order KFC for Christmas — and KFC has to take reservations 3 months ahead of time!
  • 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.
  • 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, 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.
    • In Singapore, the local equivalent of this trope is Malay and Indian restaurants remaining open during Chinese New Year while most other restaurants are closed.