Fiona Chandra in LAist:
In 2019, the year Keegan Fong opened Woon, he decided he would close the HiFi restaurant on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. When he reopened on December 26, he was slammed for four straight days. Many of his Jewish customers asked, “Why weren’t you open on Christmas?!” That was when Fong realized how important the ritual of eating at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas was, and not just for Jews.
The tradition probably originated in Manhattan, where Jewish and Chinese immigrants clustered in neighborhoods near each other. Rabbi Joshua Plaut also theorizes in his book, A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis The Season To Be Jewish, that because neither culture celebrates the holiday, they’re “outsiders” on Christmas” so there’s an inherent affinity there. Plus, Chinese restaurants tend to stay open every day of the year, holidays be damned. Whatever initially drew diners to Chinese restaurants on Christmas, they’ve become a beloved destination for holiday feasts on both coasts, and everywhere in between.