The holiday season is a time to gather and celebrate with family. In recent years, families have become more and more diverse, particularly in regard to faith. For example, data from the Pew Research Center indicates that 46 percent of Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are children of interfaith marriages.
A greater number of interfaith marriages means it’s likely holiday hosts will be celebrating among family and friends with different religious backgrounds than their own. In an effort to ensure everyone feels welcome, hosts can consider these ways to honor various faiths during their holiday celebrations.
• Learn about other faiths. Knowledge of other faiths can help hosts create a more inclusive and welcoming atmosphere during the holiday season. For example, a Christian host welcoming a Jewish friend or relative into their home for the holidays can learn about the festival of Chanukah prior to opening their home to guests.
• Incorporate what you’ve learned into the party. After learning about the holiday celebrations of other faiths, hosts can incorporate that new knowledge into their decor and celebration. When planning the meal, prepare a traditional holiday dish a guest might eat when celebrating their own faith or culture. This can make for a meal that’s both welcoming and more flavorful at the same time.
• Let guests chip in. Extended family members and friends from different religious backgrounds may be proud of their faith and enthusiastic about the chance to share it with the people they love most. A holiday gathering is the ideal time to embrace this spirit. Encourage guests from different religious backgrounds to bring something that reminds them of their own religious celebrations. That can be a particular food or beverage, a playlist of holiday songs, or a small gift such as an ornament to incorporate into holiday decor. Guests can then share as much as they would like to about their faith, including any holiday traditions that they typically engage in.
• Reduce emphasis on a particular holiday. When hosting friends and family during the holidays, avoid placing too great an emphasis on a particular religious holiday. It’s alright for hosts to offer well wishes and even recite prayers that reflect their faith, but try to emphasize how enjoyable it is for everyone to gather under one roof and celebrate the season together. Celebrating with family is a significant component of the holiday season for people of all faiths, so emphasizing togetherness during this special time of year is something all guests will appreciate.
Holiday hosts can embrace various strategies to make sure guests from all religious backgrounds feel welcome at their homes this holiday season.