The holidays. What seems like a joyous celebration for most couples can become a logistical nightmare for interfaith couples. Take me and my partner, Nate, for example. He’s Jewish, and I’m Orthodox Christian. How do you celebrate the holidays as an interfaith couple?
Oh, and which holidays? There’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Passover, Thanksgiving (not necessarily a religious holiday, but one I celebrate), Sukkot, and the list goes on. With this many holidays to celebrate between us, I’m surprised we even have a social life.
The holidays just keep coming and coming! They never stop!
And while we all love to get together with family (or not) and eat delicious food (until we can’t see another turkey), when you’re in an inter-faith relationship, it takes a lot of effort to make sure both sides are acknowledged and celebrated.
Now, there are many couples that, while having different faiths, aren’t practicing or even religious. This is the case with Nate and me. While we come from different religions, we’re not practicing.
That doesn’t mean we don’t believe in a higher being or ignore religious festivities altogether. As we got older, we found that these events are really more about bonding and spending time with loved ones.
So how do we make it work with two different families celebrating two different religions? It’s time to learn how to celebrate the holidays as an interfaith couple.
9 Ways To Celebrate The Holidays As An Interfaith Couple
So how can you enjoy and celebrate the holidays with your partner? Here’s how to celebrate the holidays as an interfaith couple.
Respect your partner’s beliefs
While Nate and I view religion in the same way, that may not be the case for you. Your partner may not be religious, while you are religious. However, that’s not a bad thing.
Both sides can reflect on each other’s beliefs and take something positive out of them. For example, while I’m not Jewish, I really respect some of their values and want to incorporate them into my family one day.
Take it as a new experience
If you’ve never celebrated your partner’s holidays before, take it as a new experience. Learn from it – what did you like about it? How can you help your partner celebrate their holiday?
For me, I support Nate celebrating Hanukah by buying him traditional Hanukah sweets and lighting the candles with him. Does the holiday necessarily mean something to me? Not really, but it means something to him.
See your differences as an advantage
It’s easy to take it as an obstacle when you come from a different faith than your partner. We’re from two different worlds; how can we ever make this work?
I was also in that same spot as well. Every holiday, I would see it as something that separates us. But that was wrong. Instead, take your differences and see them as an advantage. How many other people have the privilege of experiencing a new culture on a deeper level?
Reflect on the holidays and create new traditions for your family
Listen, sometimes there are so many holidays, you can’t do it all. And that’s okay. If it gets too much, you can choose what you want to celebrate or how you will celebrate those holidays.
You have the power to create new traditions for your family. If you’re not religious but want to celebrate Easter, have a family dinner or do an Easter egg hunt.
You will have to compromise
Let’s be honest; there are some holidays you’re not going to like, no matter how symbolic or touching they are. But if the holiday means something to your partner, you’re going to have to compromise. It’s not fair you get to celebrate your holidays, and they have to push their holidays aside.
Bring your friends along
Whenever I have Christmas dinner with Nate, it’s so depressing. It’s just him and me with a sad tree in the corner. Before our relationship, we’d have the family over, and there was warmth around Christmas.
But this year, we’re celebrating Christmas with friends. It’s important for me to feel at home, and Nate understands this. So, if you have friends, invite them over and include them in your holiday.
See what works for you and your partner
It’s you and your partner’s life, and you’ll be creating a new family that isn’t like most singular faith homes. Your home will be different, and that’s great. See what works for your family and how you’d like to share the history behind your holidays.
Connect with other interfaith couples
The good thing is you’re not the only interfaith couple in this world. Sorry if you thought you were special, but in this case, it’s good that you’re not. There are tons of couples going through the holidays in the same way as you. So, why not join an interfaith group that celebrates your differences.
Include both sides of the family
Why not include your family in celebrating your partner’s holiday? Give them a chance to explore a new culture and learn something new. Let both families share experiences with you they would have otherwise.
I bought a Christmas tree and decorated it and Nate’s family had never seen that before. It was something new for them and now, every year, they ask when the tree is going to be up. It doesn’t have to be something crazy, but it’s a nice way to open the eyes and minds of the people around you.
As someone in an interfaith relationship, I know it’s not easy. Yes, it’s hard, but you don’t need to make it harder for yourself.
You can learn a lot from relationship writing, so take these tips on how to celebrate the holidays as an interfaith couple and use them to help you celebrate the holidays with your partner.