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What do Chinese people eat on Christmas?

Updated April 17, 2017

Even though most Chinese people are not Christians, there are still some that celebrate the holiday by following Christian traditions such as having a festive meal with the family. They still exchange gifts, decorate their homes and hang Christmas stockings. Even if the reasons are not the same, the Chinese still celebrate Christmas similar to how Christians celebrate the holiday.

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The Chinese traditionally serve a lot of food on their table since they believe that it is bad luck if you run out of food while eating. Appetizers are composed of three or four types of dishes like minced chicken and sweetcorn soup, mixed vegetables soup or sesame prawn meat on toast. Other appetizers served during Christmas are spareribs in chilli, crispy vegetable spring rolls and the traditional array of dimsum and dumplings served on bamboo steamers.

Main course

The main course in Chinese meals is composed of multiple dishes, instead of the usual one or two dishes in Western menus. A multi-dish example is the classic Peking duck with various sauces, sizzling lamb in black pepper sauce, chicken in sweet and sour sauce, chicken chow mien, pan fried prawns in Szechuan sauce, steamed groupers in soy sauce and beef tenderloin tips in oyster sauce. Roast pork, chicken and suckling pig are also common options for the main course.


Desserts in Chinese cuisine are relatively simple dishes, even if they are served during Christmas. Flavored gelatin in the shape of koi is considered a lucky symbol so it often appears at the end of the meal. Other Chinese dessert dishes are chilled fruit cocktail with almond jelly, fried sesame balls, tapioca pudding, egg tarts, mango pudding and moon cakes.

The Chinese also like to serve gao, which are rice-based pastries that can be moulded into different shapes and sizes and infused with different fruit flavours. Round fruits such as oranges and tangerines are also served, as they are believed to bring in luck.

Western dishes

Western dishes also appear in Chinese Christmas menus, such as roast beef, ham with vegetable side dishes, casseroles, mashed potatoes and even the incorporation of the Western Christmas drink, eggnog. In hotels in China, visitors will be pleased to note that Chinese Christmas banquets look a lot like Western Christmas spread where there is a variety of meat and sauces that you can choose from to celebrate the holidays. Meals often end with a fortune cookie.

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About the Author

Heilyn Cabrera

Based in Winton, New Zealand, Heilyn Cabrera has been writing travel-related articles since 2002. Since 2010 she has worked for an online journal as a Channel Steward for the African, Asian and Middle Eastern History Channel. Heilyn holds a Master of Arts in journalism from Memorial University, Mount St. Vincent's.

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