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A Very Merry Movie and Chinese Cuisine Christmas

The Igor Stravinsky Fountain adjacent to the Centre Georges Pompidou was a mass of broken ice, that we discovered as we were walking home from seeing a movie at Les Halles. Before stopping to take a photo of the unusual sight, I had been joking with my friend about all the Christmas days spent taking in a movie and then going to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. The movie theater would inevitably be filled with friends and acquaintances, and then the restaurant would be filled with some of the same people, and others we knew as well. We’d wave from across the room, say “Merry Christmas,” and chuckle lightly.

 

Then, by sheer coincidence, upon arriving home and scanning new emails, two friends had sent the same Christmas greeting: “Click on this link to see how us Jewish kids like to celebrate!! http://www.youtube.com/BrandonHarrisWalker

It’s a YouTube production by Brandon Harris Walker that makes light of the phenomena sweeping the Jewish cyber waves. Who would have thought it was so universal, and it’s strange, but true. It’s an unspoken tradition by the Jewish community to celebrate the Christian holiday in this way…with a movie and Chinese food. Go figure!

Arriving home, I called my mother in New Orleans to say “Merry Christmas” and see what she was up to. The first words out of her mouth were, “I went to see a movie and it was the worst movie I’ve ever seen!” After hearing all the gory details about the dark and violent film (that she refuses to leave once she has paid for a ticket, no matter how dastardly), I asked her what her plans were for the rest of the day. “Guess we’re going to ‘Shirley’s’ for dinner,” she quickly replied.

“Shirley’s” is a Chinese restaurant that no one can remember its real name, because Shirley, the owner, has so much personality, that all the regular patrons have just taken to calling it just that. Christmas Day is Shirley’s biggest day of the whole year and it’s a safe bet there will be several tables of 10 people or more and everyone will know everyone else. The joke goes that they could easily have formed a “minyan.” (A “minyan” is a quorum of at least 10 adult Jewish men, required to complete a formal prayer service.)

So, while all the gentile kids were opening their gifts stacked under their pretty decorated Christmas trees, we were taking advantage of the day off to do our own thing…a movie and Chinese food.

It isn’t any different here in Paris. The streets were the most deserted I’d ever seen them and very few cafés were open, but the movie theater was filled. The virtually one museum open was the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme at the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan (71, rue du Temple, 75003) which we visited before settling in to see “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.” It had a fair number of visitors and it would be an educated guess to assume most were Jewish.

I wondered if they were next headed to the nearest Chinese Restaurant to complete their Christmas Day?

A la prochaine…  

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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