Photo: Shun Lee

For some, Christmas dinner is a bit like Thanksgiving redux: Lots of food, just surrounded by wrapping paper and materialism. But for others, Christmas means Chinese food. (And we're talking non Chinese others, because it's been known that Chinese Christians will eat Chinese food on Christmas, as well as Easter, and any other holiday...July 4th: Chinese food...Thanksgiving: Chinese food...) The Times' Alex Witchel looks at many Jewish New Yorkers' love of Chinese food from Shun Lee on Christmas. Shun Lee Palace on the East Side and Shun Lee Cafe on the Upper West Side do monster business on Christmas according to owner Michael Tong. He tells Witchel, "Through the 40's, 50's and 60's, Jews would eat Chinese food every Sunday night. They still love Chinese food." Tong changes the menu every 6–8 months so his customers won't get bored, and his customers pay it forward: Tong estimates he's been to 500 bar mitzvahs, earning him the nickname "Michael Schwarz." But he hasn't catered any: "You can't have Chinese food at a bar mitzvah unless you're really Reform."

Buy Gish Jen's hilarious book, Mona in the Promised Land, where main character Mona Chang converts to Judaism and is known as "Changowitz." More about the Jewish community in China.