The holidays can be a stressful time for couples what with holiday work parties, shopping, work, kids’ school holiday events and parades, it can feel like a miracle to get some quiet time. As an interfaith couple, we need to carve out some focused time to be together and plan how we’ll carry out our interfaith holiday traditions and religious observances.
This time can be complicated for interfaith couples. There are two sets of traditions to fit into a certain timeframe, family obligations and church or synagogue services to attend and then, there’re the children. They may also have two sets of celebrations and school pageants or recitals to attend. How on earth will we ever manage it all? From a time management perspective this can be a daunting task, but if we take a step back and look at it in a different way, it can become the best opportunity for you to become closer as a couple and as a family. Here are some ways to make your interfaith celebration this year the best ever.
Helpful Tips for Interfaith Holiday Celebrations
Don’t try to do everything: Spreading yourself too thin with overbooking your time makes for stressful holidays. Pick and choose the events and observances that are most meaningful to you and your family. Choose a couple of things from each religious tradition and focus your time and energy on them.
Make it about family: Holidays are for honoring traditions, and for celebrating family and children. Spend your holidays with extended family, friends and loved ones and concentrate on making it truly special for the kids.
Give equal time to both faiths: Make time in your busy schedule to do something with your interfaith partner that honors their religious traditions; and you both do something that honors yours. For Jewish and Christian interfaith couples, you can attend church and decorate the Christmas tree, as well as light the Menorah and tell the Hanukkah story.
Food from two places: Each partner brings to the holidays their own special memories of the flavors of the holidays they grew up with. Choose recipes that spark that nostalgia and share the same from your own Christmases past. Those recipes honor your families and your aunts, uncles and grandparents attending will all feel a part of your celebration with these familiar dishes on the table.
What brings you together? So much of discussion is around the differences in religious traditions and what makes one unique, special or “better” than another. The Couples Experts suggest that you look instead for what you have in common and the ways that your religious traditions are the same. Ideals like love, peace, kindness and compassion are well-taught any time of the year.
Religion in action: The holidays are a great time to put your religious values into practical action and this is a great way to model “walking the walk” for your kids. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, give out blankets or socks to street folks, go walk the dogs at the animal shelter or invite people you know don’t have family or a place to celebrate to your home. Share your love and include others that are not religious or may not have a belief system in place to see yours in action.
Be Together: Take time out from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to simply be together. You and your partner can carve out a couple of hours here and there to spend celebrating your relationship.
Make something new: One of the best things about being an interfaith couple is the rich heritage and traditions you both have to draw from for your holiday celebrations. For children that you might be raising as “both” faiths, this is a great opportunity for you and your partner to create some special new traditions that you can share with them. These are the memories that you are making for your kids to take with them into adulthood and to teach to their own children. What a special thing to be able to create a new tradition that will be honored after you’re gone.
Above all, please remember that in this crazy commercial holiday season; hope, peace, love and family connections are the most important things. The Couples Experts wishes you a joyous holiday season and a very happy new year.