Chinese Food on Christmas

Interviewer: Does your family engage in any Jewish culinary customs such as eating kosher?

SS: We aren’t kosher but like a lot of other Jewish Americans we actually eat Chinese food on Christmas which is an interesting tradition. 

Interviewer: Can you tell me more about this?

SS: I’ve been doing it since as long as I can remember. Every Christmas for dinner me and my family has a bunch of Chinese food and has a really good dinner usually with my immediate family, my cousins that live in Los Angeles, and my grandparents. 

Interviewer: When did you start doing this?

SS: It’s something that my family does every year and that we got from my dad and his side of the family. He did it with his family growing up and they passed it down to ours.

Interviewer: Who else that you know does this?

SS: I actually know quite a bit of Jewish people who do this. I have a bunch of family friends who do it and most of my relatives.

Interviewer: Do people outside your family do this in the same manner or is there any differences?

SS: Well actually most people I know have the meal Christmas morning. My family is a little different we like to do it for dinner

Interviewer: Do you know where this custom came from?

SS: I’m not all entirely sure. However, my dad has explained it a little bit. He basically said that it started decades ago when his parents were kids and that it is used as a way to feel connected to jewish culture on a day where we feel a bit outcast from the rest of society. It’s a way for us to engage in an activity on a day where most of the world is doing something completely different. 

Interviewer: How do you personally feel about this tradition your family has?

SS: I personally love it. I feel like if my family didn’t have this especially at a young age Christmas would have been a weird day for me. But instead, I have something to look forward to. It really brings us together and we always enjoy it a lot. It’s also nice to know that I’m doing something similar to friends and family in my Jewish community. 

Context:  I received this explaining of a Jewish folk tradition from an 18-year-old male Jewish from Los Angeles. He practices Judaism and been raised in a Jewish household his entire life. This interview was done in person at the USC Leavey Library. 

Analysis: This is folk tradition of Jewish people eating Chinese food on Christmas day is an interesting one. It is an example of a community creating a tradition in order to feel connected to their own identities and their communities in a creative manner.