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Restaurants, Jewish community face disruption to tradition of Chinese food on Christmas Eve

Restaurants, Jewish community face disruption to tradition of Chinese food on Christmas Eve

MONTREAL —
It’s not just people who celebrate Christmas who found their usual traditions disrupted on Thursday.

On the night that some members of the Jewish community jokingly refer to as “Erev Christmas,” a ritual has emerged that in normal years takes on the form of a celebration for those who don’t celebrate: heading out for Chinese food.

The tradition has become so popular that some have tried to explore its history, tracing it back to Eastern European immigrants to the United States in the late 19th century.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the dining rooms of all types of restaurants in Quebec’s red zones, the usual orders of General Tso are being ordered in or left for next year.

Some Jews from around North America took to social media to discuss how they planned to adapt their traditional meal to the pandemic.

At several Montreal Chinese restaurants, employees who answered the phone told CTV News that take-out or delivery orders are no busier than other nights.

Eric Ku, owner of St. Urbain St.’s Dobe and Andy, said he opted to shut down entirely for Christmas Eve and Christmas to allow employees to spend time with their families. Though his restaurant, which relies on a lunchtime crowd, doesn’t normally take part in the Christmas Eve rush, he said business during the pandemic has been a challenge.

“I spoke to a friend of mine who has a restaurant in Chinatown and he has a few orders. Obviously people are supporting Chinatown a little more right now,” he said. “Let’s hope it continues.”

“It’s been tough. We had to adapt to the situation. We’re working a lot more with social media and promoting ourselves that way. The locals in the area are mostly elderly people, so we’ve been trying to capture a new market.”

The pandemic has been particularly hard on businesses in Montreal’s Chinatown, with members of the community saying they’ve been faced with the dual challenges of the pandemic and anti-Asian racism, with some businesses losing up to 80 per cent of their sales. 

Published at Thu, 24 Dec 2020 23:15:00 +0000

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Written by Riel Roussopoulos

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