The holiday season is quickly approaching, and, many people are making plans to visit friends and family during this time period; and, very often that means bringing your significant other with you. It’s hard enough trying to fit into someone else’s family the first time you meet them; and, if you have different religious backgrounds the challenge becomes even greater since you might not know all the customs associated with religious holidays that aren’t your own. Here is your guide to Interfaith relationship holiday etiquette.
If you’re heading to the home of a Christian boyfriend or girlfriend then Christmas will be the big holiday. Depending upon the family’s European roots, Christmas presents are exchanged either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Gifts are usually meaningful to the receiver and the giver usually puts considerable thought into the gifts. It is common for couples to become engaged Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Most families usually have a large meal either Christmas Eve such as the Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes to a traditional English Christmas Day dinner of turkey, goose or pheasant.
If your significant other is Jewish, you might know that Chanukkah is the festival of lights, but, beyond that you might not have a clue what it is really all about (even though) your boyfriend or girlfriend is Jewish. Contrary to popular belief, Chanukkah is not Jewish Christmas! In fact, it’s actually a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, and, gift giving is usually limited to the immediate family. While it is proper to bring at least one gift per person, you don’t have to go overboard. Additionally, don’t be shy about asking your boyfriend or girlfriend how his or her family usually celebrates Chanukkah, and, with their help, you’ll open yourself up to new experiences, food, and, traditions. Embrace the difference!
If your boyfriend or girlfriend celebrates Kwanzaa with their family and you’ve been invited to participate then you should at least know that the last night of Kwanzaa is traditionally the night of gift giving and is known as Imani. Additionally, gifts given should honor the creative spirit and reaffirm self worth.
If you happen to be dating someone who does not celebrate a holiday such as Chanukkah, Kwanzaa or Christmas there is no reason you still cannot invite them home to experience your traditions. Only the most closed minded people will decline and declare their religion does not celebrate that holiday. If this is the reaction you receive after your offer to have that person join you for the holiday, you might want to take a serious look at the relationship. Difference in religion that becomes a sore spot in the dating process will only progressively get worse as the relationship becomes deeper. If you are unwilling to convert to the other person’s religion to keep the peace, then it is probably time to say goodbye.