Folk Tradition – Jewish

Folk Tradition- Christmas Chinese Food and Meal on Wheels

Every Christmas I spent back in Erie, Pennsylvania was always a bit different from all my friends, at least the Christian ones.  They would wake up to presents under the tree and spend time with family, but I never really had that.  It is normal though because I am Jewish.  In Erie, the Jews had a different way of celebrating the holiday.  We would wake up and deliver meals to underprivileged families.  The program was called Meals on Wheels and my whole immediate family would participate each Christmas.  Following that, our family would go to the movies with other Jewish families in the community. Once the movie finished, we would all order Chinese food and have a get together at someone’s house. This Christmas tradition is not written in the Torah nor is it mandated in any part of our synagogues rulebook, but it is accepted as common practice each year.

I collected this tradition from my family.  I participated in it for the first time when I was twelve.  At first, I thought it was going to be a one-time deal until I joined the rest of the community in doing so year after year.  I thinking helping the poor is great for the community and going out afterwards helps the Jewish community come together.

I believe the Jewish community comes together on Christmas to help underprivileged people because of our willingness and want to do good deeds.  Another reason is that there is nothing else to do that day, so we mine as well be productive.

Getting together after we all participate in Meals on Wheels makes us feel together on a day that separates us from the rest of society.  We could do anything together as a group and the same effect would happen, but it just so happens that the movie theatre is one of the only places that open early in the day on Christmas Day in Erie.  Feeling this sense of identity and belonging to the Jewish faith is a direct bi-product of these events.

Eating Chinese food can be considered a Jews’ favorite past time.  Chinese restaurants are open for almost all major Christian and American holidays, which makes it especially popular within the Jewish religion.  Eating this food on Christmas makes us feel different and special.  I know I feel closer to the Jewish community when I partake in the events that make up our Christmas Day.