Family & Relationships 6 interfaith couples and families reveal how they celebrate the holidays

01:25  13 december  2019
01:25  13 december  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Here's how six interfaith couples and families navigate and celebrate their religious differences during the winter holiday season. He hosts a Christmas party every year, a tradition that began when he and a non-religious Muslim friend decided to celebrate the holiday in the corniest way possible

Step 1: Make a list Make a list of the holiday rituals that are important to you and ask your spouse to do the same. Then find a quiet, relaxed time to discuss Tip Look at the bright side: Each spouse gets to spend their holidays with their respective family , rather than alternating every year or running around

a group of people standing in a room © Courtesy of Yael Blatt
  • Interfaith relationships and marriages are becoming increasingly common in the US.
  • Around the winter holidays, interfaith couples and families find ways of navigating and celebrating their religious differences.
  • Here's how six couples and families make the holidays their own.

Nearly four in 10 Americans who have been married since 2010 are married to someone of a different faith, according to Pew Research's Religious Landscape Study. That number is even higher among unmarried people living with a romantic partner, with nearly half of them living with a partner in a different religious group.

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The holidays are the perfect time be around the people you love, and sometimes, that means being around your chosen family . My friends and I celebrate what we lovingly call Nofucksgiving. It's a Thanksgiving dinner where we get together and eat and talk about all the things we don't give a fuck

Interfaith identities and relationships can feel particularly complex during the winter holiday season with several distinct, widely-celebrated religious holidays in close proximity.

I'm not exactly in an interfaith relationship myself - it's more of an intra-faith situation. My boyfriend and I were both raised in Orthodox Jewish homes, but he's an atheist and I'm still observant.

He hosts a Christmas party every year, a tradition that began when he and a non-religious Muslim friend decided to celebrate the holiday in the corniest way possible, complete with holiday-themed charades and ugly sweaters. As per a long-held Jewish tradition, he also procures Chinese food for the occasion (from a kosher takeout place, for my sake).

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Our family is not really that traditional. We don’t often go to church, only for weddings and funerals. We used to try to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, but when it got around to midnight on Christmas Eve, everyone was usually too drunk or had eaten too much or was too tired to walk a mile up to the

Americans still celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the fall. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Turkey is still the main dish and pumpkin pie is Announcer: We hope you will make these recipes your own and add your family traditions so that your family and friends can enjoy the most

He's supportive of my observance on a regular basis, joining me for Shabbat and reserving a "kosher korner" in his kitchen. So it's nice to return the favor by enjoying the secular Christmas shenanigans he's brought into my life.

I wanted to talk to other couples and families who bridge religious and cultural differences to make Christmas, Hanukkah, and other festive occasions their own.

Here's how six interfaith couples and families celebrate the holidays. Their responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Anya's father's family is Jewish. Her mother's family is Armenian Orthodox. a woman standing in front of a window © Courtesy

My immediate family is Jewish, as is my dad's side. My mom never converted as she's not personally religious, although she's very involved in our synagogue and we have a Jewish home. Her family is Armenian Orthodox, and her mother (my grandma) was Catholic.

The winter holidays are the only ones we split. Otherwise, we celebrate only Jewish holidays in my immediate family, but the Christmas family traditions are important to my mom, so my brother, my dad, and I celebrate with her.

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This official public holiday holiday is celebrated on the first Monday of the last spring month. People celebrate the coming of spring. Queen’s Birthday. It is celebrated on April the 21st. All the newspapers, radio and TV channels congratulate her.

Apparently as a little kid I told strangers that "We don't celebrate Christmas, except I have to go to my grandma's for Christmas because it's not really Christmas for her unless I'm there."

Christmas Eve is a big party with all the extended family from my mom's side - cousins, second cousins, aunts, uncles, a bunch of assorted people I can't quite place - with potluck appetizers and carols around the piano. It's all very Norman Rockwell. I look forward to it every year.

a person standing next to a christmas tree © Courtesy Hanukkah, since it's a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, isn't always one we can spend together. Since we usually spend Christmas with my mom's family, and we've often just traveled home for the High Holy Days in the fall, we usually don't all come together for Hanukkah as well. My mother (still, even though we're all grown up) will mail us one big box, wherever we may be. Inside are eight beautifully wrapped gifts, one for every night of the holiday. Usually, my brother and I will FaceTime home so that we can light candles and say the prayers together.

We don't have a lot of particular "interfaith" traditions for the winter holidays, since Christmas is sort of its own separate thing, though sometimes my brother and I will convince Mom to make her latkes (the best in the world) for Christmas dinner.

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From what you understand, how are these holidays celebrated (food, family activities, local celebrations , games and recreation, etc.)? NR: Hello. This is Charles Richards from Channel 7 News, and we're down here, uh, at the City Mall, interviewing people on how they celebrate Christmas.

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However, one of my favorite holiday traditions all year long is in the spring. During Passover, we always pass out hard-boiled eggs, a traditional symbol of the festival. Then, in a break with Jewish tradition, we play the Armenian Easter game of egg wars, where you tap your egg against someone else's. Whoever's doesn't break is the winner. I'm pretty sure my mom cheats.

Sam was raised Jewish with a Presbyterian mother and Jewish father. a group of people sitting in front of a curtain © Courtesy

My mom is Presbyterian and my dad is Jewish (Conservative). My dad's father was a Holocaust survivor and it was important that my brothers and I were raised Jewish. We were converted to Judaism at birth and practiced as Conservative Jews.

Growing up, both sets of holidays had a strong presence in our house.

When it was developmentally appropriate, it was explained to us that "we help mom to celebrate her holidays in the same way that she helps us to celebrate our holidays."

When I went to college, I started to become more observant. My practices most align with Modern Orthodoxy, but I don't identify that way unless I'm required to check off a box. My husband was raised in an Orthodox Jewish Persian home. He grew up observing all Jewish laws and practicing both Chabad and Sephardic customs.

At some point, my brothers and I become very resistant to doing Christmas things.

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Picking out a tree, decorating the tree, listening to Christmas music 24/7 ... We have a clock in the kitchen that plays a Christmas song every hour on the hour. We hate that clock but it brings my mom so much joy. We've learned to be less resistant.

Christmas is predominantly considered a family day in our house. We order Chinese food for our Christmas Eve dinner (my mom would never give up her Christmas dinner) and then head to my mom's church for a service. Afterwards, we head to my grandma's house to help her decorate her tree. All of the grandkids (and now grandadults) change into matching pajamas and take endless photos together. We then head outside with a special mix of reindeer food (oatmeal to eat and glitter to see from the sky) and sprinkle it all over the lawn.

a room with many items on the counter © Courtesy

Every year we have a huge Hanukkah party for all of our friends and family. My mom cooks up a ton of food and now also has a "kosher counter" for me and my husband. Everyone enjoys eating while looking at the huge Christmas village that my mom builds every year. Once it's dark, everyone sets up their menorahs by the window and we light candles and sing together.

It's really difficult when Christmas falls on Shabbat.

Finding a balance between observing the laws of Shabbat and celebrating the day in our traditional ways can get very complicated. It was also tough when I broached the topic with my husband about joining my family for Christmas. As someone who had never been exposed to anything Christmas-related, it was uncomfortable for him (and continues to be so) to sit by a Christmas tree and receive Christmas presents. Family is a big value to both of us, so we're constantly talking about the discomfort and figuring out ways to approach these differences.

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Yael grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home. She's been with Philip, who was raised Catholic, for three and a half years. a little girl wearing a hat © Courtesy

I grew up Orthodox [Jewish] but I haven't been practicing for the last decade. I am very traditional in that I celebrate most holidays in some way or another, and I am part of a couple Jewish organizations (mostly Chabad). Philip technically was Catholic as a child. I'd say he is agnostic, but to him, Christmas is a time for family and has nothing to do with religion.

I honestly try to stay holiday neutral with decorations (other than the tree and menorahs). For Christmas we decorate the tree together. Every year I get a new ornament with the year on it so that one day we will have tons of them to show all the years we've spent together.

The important thing for both of us during the holiday season is family and being together.

It's actually nice that we come from different backgrounds because there is never the conversation of whose family we are going to that year - we get to see both of our families every year.

a person standing in front of a cake © Courtesy

We always go to my mom's house for one night of Hanukkah to eat latkes and open presents and the rest of the time we light candles together. I really like that we always light Hanukkah candles together every night. We usually sit there quietly for a few minutes after we light them and just watch them flicker. It's very peaceful.

His family does every other year as a big Christmas up north at his uncle's lodge. It honestly is something out of the movies with 25 to 30 people up there. We go into the woods and cut down a tree and drag it back. Everybody makes ornaments together and bakes cookies. There's cocoa, snowball fights, snowmobiles and lots of card games.

  6 interfaith couples and families reveal how they celebrate the holidays © Courtesy

It's not all sunshine and daisies with an interfaith relationship. There is a lot of compromise that goes into finding what works.

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When we first met I told him that I would never have a tree in my house and that really upset him because it's a huge part of him and his childhood. He comes to all the Jewish holidays, and I realized that I wasn't being fair saying we couldn't honor his culture. I am someone that if I'm in it's 100%, so I have fully embraced Christmas and I'm probably more into it now than he is.

Caroline's mother is Episcopalian and her father is Jewish.

My mom was raised in a practicing Catholic family. She is now Episcopalian. My dad was raised Jewish and my parents were married in an interfaith marriage. My mom was the first person to marry outside the faith, but my grandparents were wonderful about it. My middle sister and I spent six years going to Hebrew school once a week, and currently identify as Jewish, though certain portions of our own faith don't recognize us as my mom never converted.

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We have always been very close with my mother's family, so I have celebrated Christmas my entire life, though not really in a religious sense. However, Christmas Eve is one time a year my dad, middle sister, and I attend church, though we don't take communion. We do have a tree, but it is covered in ornaments that we've made at school over the years, a couple of dreidels, and ornaments from wherever we have traveled that year. My dad also puts out his Hannukah lights (they have eight different settings) and changes some of our light bulbs to be blue (which is very annoying, but we get it).

After opening our gifts on Christmas, we eat French toast and watch "Fiddler on the Roof."

For Hanukkah, we'd light the candles every night and have a party over our school break. When I was little this would often happen on New Year's Eve. My dad would make latkes, jelly donuts, noodle kugel, and brisket, and our guests would help out with the rest. We normally also made a cake in the shape of a dreidel and my dad had these plastic dreidel cups that you could fill with ice cream.

I both enjoy and am slightly unsettled by the fact that I celebrate Christmas.

Growing up interfaith was hard because I never quite felt like I belonged and thought of myself as an impostor. During the Christmas church service, I would often wonder if I "passed" as Christian and if I wanted to. I continue to be hurt by the Jewish reaction to my interfaith status because I often feel that I am not Jewish enough for Jews. I am often the most secure when I'm the only Jew in a room because then I have the power to define my faith.

Gal grew up in a Conservative Jewish home. She and Justin, who was raised Christian, have been together for 11 years and married for one. a person sitting at a dinner table © Courtesy

I was raised in a Conservative Jewish home and community, with emphasis on spirituality and Israeli cultural traditions. Justin was raised in a Christian household, but is currently not actively practicing, as he finds meaning and spirituality in nature and through his work in music.

Christmastime for us is all about family and family traditions.

For the last 10 years of our relationship, we have created a tradition of traveling to Justin's hometown, Michigan City, Indiana, to spend time with his family.

Justin and I generally celebrate Hanukkah in our home together, singing songs, lighting candles, and eating traditional foods like latkes and sfinge (Moroccan style fried donuts). When Hanukkah falls around the same time as Christmas, and we are in Michigan City for the holiday, I always makes latkes and light the Hanukkah candles, as Justin's family is eager to get involved and be part of my Jewish traditions.

Becky T. Bordo et al. holding a dog posing for the camera © Courtesy

I came from a family that values their holiday traditions, as we acknowledge the relationship to our ancestors and the importance of remaining connected to them and to the Jewish consciousness that is present in each holiday. Hanukkah is the major holiday during the wintertime, and although this is not a "high holiday," it generally falls close to Christmas and has become a very festive and joyous time in America. This has allowed our family traditions to develop further than those traditions in Israel.

Additionally, wintertime showed us early on in our relationship that even though we grew up with different religions and traditions, our core values are the same.

This is exactly why we are able to build an interfaith home together with general ease, love, and openness. Since our values and ideas of "home," love, caring, and family are aligned, we are able to appreciate each other's traditions and build new traditions in our own household to elevate each holiday and create an atmosphere of love.

Julia comes from an interfaith home and has been in an interfaith relationship for three years.

My father was raised in a religious Catholic home in Puerto Rico. He considers himself more spiritual than any kind of religion. My mother was raised in a kosher home. I grew up in a home that wasn't kosher and only went to shul on the high holidays and special occasions. I became more religious on my own when I was a teenager.

My boyfriend grew up in a Catholic home. He was baptized, had a communion, and had a confirmation. His mother made them go to church every week for a while but gave up eventually. He talks about going back to church every once in a while. For now, his religion is just something he thinks about, not something he really follows.

My holiday celebrations have changed some over the years, but there are two things that have never changed, one for Christmas and one for Hanukkah.

The first is my Irish Christmas. My mother's best friend Joan Marie is Irish Catholic. My mother has been going to Joan Marie's family for Christmas Eve for over three decades. Her very large family (she is one of 10 children) celebrates Christmas Eve all together. The only times that I have missed Christmas Eve with my Irish family is the year I was in Israel, and one winter when I was away at USY International Convention. We all open presents and stockings. There's a whole lot of children. They all make food and bring in Chinese food, and there are desserts with no end, and lots of drinking. No one minds that I bring my own food to eat.

The second holiday celebration that has not changed is Hanukkah with my mother's family. My mother's sister and her daughters, and my zayde and bubbe (until her passing, then his) would gather at one of their houses for bagels, latkes, and presents. My Irish grandmother had crocheted my family "Hanukkah Stockings" that we put up, they were just regular stockings but blue and white instead of red and white. We lit candles together every night as a family, and my father always helped, and even learned to say the blessings in Hebrew with us. My parents would give us little presents on the first seven days, and one big present on the last day.

I have been with my boyfriend for three years now and we have lived together for five months. Since this is the first year living with my boyfriend for the holidays, I will probably light candles with him. We usually each get each other two presents, or a two-part present, so we can give one on Hanukkah and one on Christmas.

As for holiday traditions as a couple? I am not sure yet.

I am trying to think of ways to make the holiday season special for us both, but I am still working on it. 

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