york times: The custom dates back to at least 1935, when the New York Times mentioned a Chinese restaurant owner bringing chow mein to a New Jersey Jewish children's home on Christmas Day, according to CTV. The custom is now so well-known it's been studied, parodied, and was once even referenced by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan during her 2010 nomination hearing. There's a longstanding tradition of Jewish families in Canada and the U.S. going out to eat Chinese food on Dec. 25. Here's a closer look at how the tradition started. This meant Jewish families were typically free on the Christmas Day holiday, and Chinese restaurants were open too, says historian and food writer Lara Rabinovitch. A matter of convenience When Jewish and Chinese immigrants first started arriving in Canada and the U.S., they didn't observe Dec. 25 as a holiday. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.