The tradition started in New York over 100 years ago

ATASCADERO — While some families gather around Christmas trees, open presents, and get together with their nearest and dearest, there’s another Christmas Day family tradition that’s just as amazing happening at the same time. The Jewish-American tradition of Chinese Food on Christmas!

The tradition started (primarily) in New York when Jewish families started going to Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day due to the fact that they were the only food establishments that were open. But the tradition has spread all over the US since then.

“Jews eating Chinese on Christmas may be one of the more cliché things of my childhood, but it’s also probably my favorite. As a child of an interfaith household, every Christmas Eve, my parents would take my brother and me to the movies, and then we’d meet up with my cousins for Chinese food. After stuffing ourselves with too much sesame chicken and pork lo mien, all nine of us would waddle back to my grandma’s house, change into our matching festive PJ sets, hang our stockings with care, and settle down on the couch. My dad would then read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas aloud as we munched on fortune cookies. Although it’s been several years since we’ve done this tradition, they’re still some of my favorite memories, and this is my formal petition to my parents to bring back the Christmas Eve Chinese food!” said Kate H. from Connecticut.


Jews have been eating Chow Mien and Orange Chicken on Christmas Eve and Christmas for over 100 years. Not only is Chinese Food on Christmas a great time to gather the family together, but some Jewish families also use the tradition to celebrate a plethora of life events.

Stacey Agdern of New York said, “We do [eat Chinese on Christmas]. My family ties doing it into my mother’s birthday, my uncle (of blessed memory)’s birthday, and my grandparent’s anniversary. It’s been a really nice family tradition.”

The great thing about Chinese food is that you can find it almost anywhere in the US, so even if you’re traveling for the holidays, you can continue the tradition. No matter where you are.

“I’m going to be down south for Christmas, and yes, we [my family and I] are going to eat Chinese food,” said North County local Luana Gerardis.

With Christmas Day being one of the busiest days of the year for many American Chinese restaurants, you normally need a reservation to enjoy some egg rolls with your family. That being said, all of the Chinese restaurants in the North County are first-come, first-serve. And, of course, there are always take-out options for locals who want to eat at home. 

See you at the buffet on Christmas Day! I know that’s where my family and I will be!

List of North County Chinese Food Restaurants:

Golden China Restaurant:

Open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. for take-out/delivery/dine-in buffet. They offer free delivery to Atascadero/Templeton/Santa Margarita.

China Gourmet:

Open 11:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. for dine-in and take-out. First come, first serve.

Dragon Palace King Buffet:

Open 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dine-in [buffet] and take-out. First come, first serve.