Even the most diehard Christmas-doers have heard of the winter holiday’s shadow-life, known informally as Jewish Christmas: a quiet, alternative holiday wherein those cast out from the Christmas tradition create their own rituals— usually involving some permutation of Chinese food and a movie. Maybe it’s because movies know no denomination. Maybe it’s because Chinese delivery is a staple cuisine in New York City.
Whatever the reasons, you can be sure there’s a takeout joint and a cinema open when everything else is closed. And if you’re celebrating Jewish Christmas this year, you’re not alone. More to the point, there are better and worse ways to do it.
Brokelyn’s got you covered with a roundup of what’s worth catching in theaters and on Netflix this Christmas, as well as a roundup of the best cheap Chinese food in a few neighborhoods. Happy faux-lidays.
What’s Playing on Netflix
You may not have your own Netflix account, but you definitely know someone celebrating Christmas who does. So whether you’re binge-streaming on your own dime or borrowing someone else’s password for the holiday, enjoy these Brokelyn picks for a well-spent Jewish Christmas.
For the holiday musical fan: A Very Murray Christmas (2015)
Directed by the ephemeral Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray’s star-studded musical comedy is sure to warm your heart. Watch George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock, Michael Cera and other celebs mix and a-mingle to a jingling beat as they help Murray put on his TV show’s holiday special in a snowstorm. Come on, you can put up with Miley for this.
For the aspiring wintry fuddy duddy: A Christmas Carol (1938)
The screen picture may be grainy, but the message is timeless. Dickens’ sentimental tale of redemption stands for all times and places. Plus, it’s only an hour-long movie, so you could stand to sit through this one and then pick another to satisfy the friend who prefers full-color flicks.
For the shameless Xmas basic: Love Actually (2003)
We don’t necessarily approve, but we’ll concede that this is a feel-good movie sure to give you hope in the world again, and that’s enough. Set during the holidays in London, England, this film moves through vignettes of romance, family ties, creative passions and other warm fuzzy stuff. And it’s mostly British actors, which is a nice refresher from the humdrum American screen.
For the anti-Christmas burnout: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Don’t want to watch a Christmas movie, but still craving a time-wasting epic? Then please, please enjoy what might be Keanu Reeve’s most fitting role ever. For his squinty eyes, anyway. This madcap adventure follows two high school slackers, Reeves and Alex Winter, as they tumble through the fabric of Time to save their high school history presentation. It may not cover Christmas, but it touches just about every other moment in time. Also stars George Carlin, as if you needed another reason to watch.
For the true holiday anarchist: A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Nothing will ruin everything you hold dear quite like Kubrick’s macabre 1971 film about a group of misanthropes who go around doing terrible, terrible things (and then suffer the re-education of a lifetime.) If you’re deeper in despair than just plain old ‘holiday blahs,’ this is the movie for you.
What’s Playing in Theaters
Movie theaters are a great place to socialize if you’re stuck doing Jewish Christmas on your own, because you automatically know that everyone else there is also alone on Christmas. There are more movies at every cinema, obviously, but here are our top picks and ticket steals.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
December 25 @ 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 9:45pm
Take advantage of emptier theaters to catch J.J. Abrams’ new addition to the Star Wars canon! If only to avoid having it spoiled for you by everyone else when they get back/having to read about it constantly on Reddit.
The Big Short (2015)
December 25 @ 1:20pm
Hot on the heels of the very successful Ant-Man, director Adam McKay’s latest movie looks at the housing credit crisis of the early 2000s. It’s getting rave critic reviews already, and Pavilion does $9 matinées, so you’ll save some money for the popcorn.
Brooklyn Academy of Music
December 25 @ 9:40pm
Spike Lee’s musical satire addresses gang violence in Chicago’s south side. Not exactly Christmas cheer, but a topical watch and an excuse to widen your awareness.
Cobble Hill Cinemas
December 25 @ 1:00pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm, 10:00pm
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are always easy to swallow. So even if this isn’t a blockbuster hit, it’s sure to give you a few chuckles on Christmas day.
Chinese Delivery on the Cheap
Last but not least, your festive meal. Order once, twice, or as many times as you like while the rest of the restaurant industry sleeps. No Seamless account? No problem! Remember, delivery food came before delivery websites. We rounded up our cheap picks with the best customer reviews and the lowest delivery minimums in various neighborhoods, so you can get your fix no matter where you are (almost).
192 Union Avenue, Williamsburg
663 Knickerbocker Avenue, Bushwick
Lucky House Kitchen
343 Lewis Avenue, Bed-Stuy
2728 Church Avenue, Flatbush/Ditmas
318 Livington Street, Downtown Brooklyn
Empire Express Chinese
319 9th Street, Park Slope