It’s official: Google Data proves Chinese food on Christmas is a thing

The tradition likely began on the Lower East Side in Manhattan in the 20th century, when Jewish and Chinese Americans lived in close to each other.

chinese food sign_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
chinese food sign_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It’s well known that for many American Jews, Chinese food on Christmas is a holiday tradition, often followed by a trip to the multiplex to see the latest flick.
But now there are statistics to back it up.
Fox Business reported on Christmas Eve that in 2018, the term “Chinese food” received an interest value of 100 from Google in the US on Christmas Day, the top measure of popularity on the search engine. On Christmas Eve, the term got an interest value of 58 and just 53 on December 23.
After the Christmas Day surge, searches for Chinese food fell to nearly half by December 27 and 28 when they dipped to less than 50.
Related searches on Christmas Day — “Chinese food Christmas,” “food open on Christmas Day,” “Chinese food open on Christmas”—were also up. The number one search term was “restaurants open on Christmas,” followed by “Chinese food on Christmas.”
The biggest surge in such searches took place on the East Coast of the US, where a significant portion of American Jews live.    
A related topic that popped up on Google’s 2018 search data was “Chinese cuisine in Jewish culture in the United States,” which got an 4,850 percent increase.
Google does not release data on the religion of those searching, but certainly Jews are likely to account for some of this traffic.
In Israel, this Christmas tradition did not go unmarked. On Tuesday, one poster on Secret Jerusalem, a Facebook group, wrote: “Please help me with my Xmas mesorah! What is the best Chinese food/restaurant in Jerusalem with a mehadrin hashgacha?! Looking for the unicorn of Chinese restaurants: Best bang for your buck, good portion size, true to American Chinese food style…”
The post received 19 comments, with many reporting that, sadly, all Chinese restaurants in the capital had closed. Some recommended a caterer who cooks Chinese food and another recommended an Asian-fusion place in Beit Nekofa, a moshav outside the city.
Crave Gourmet Street Food, a restaurant on Hashikma Street next to the Mahane Yehuda shuk, has been serving Chinese food on Christmas Eve and Christmas in recent years, and posted a hand-written letter on its Facebook page on Wednesday, reportedly from the “Chinese Restaurant Association of the United States,” that read that the group “would like to extend our thanks to The Jewish People we do not completely understand your dietary customs... but we are proud and grateful that your GOD insist you eat our food on Christmas. Happy Holidays!” At the bottom, there is a Star of David on one side and a yin-yang symbol on the other.
The website reported on the phenomenon in 2018, featuring an interview with Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut – PhD, executive director of American Friends of Rabin Medical Center, rabbi of Metropolitan Synagogue in New York and author of A Kosher Christmas – who said that the tradition likely began on the Lower East Side in Manhattan in the 20th century, when Jewish and Chinese Americans lived in close to each other, but that in recent years, it had taken off:
“In the last 35 years, Chinese restaurants on Christmas have really become this sort of temporary community where Jews in the United States can gather to be with friends and family. It’s a secular way to celebrate Christmas, but it’s also a time to shut out Christmas and announce your Jewish identity in a safe environment.”