During the holiday season there are many ways for interfaith and blended families to embrace everyone’s traditions.
What I love most about the holiday season is family and friends sharing meaningful, memorable times together honoring everyone’s beliefs and traditions. Acceptance and open-mindedness instills tolerance and forms the foundation of future traditions for the next generation.
Holiday decorating can be so much fun, especially when it becomes a shared family activity. Some interfaith families combine two or more holidays in their decorations but keep the actual celebrations separate and traditional. A Christmas tree may hold decorative crosses and Santas as well as miniature menorahs and dreidels. On the other hand, a Jewish family I know likes to hang seasonal-themed stockings by the fireplace, string blue and white lights outside their house, and decorate a tree with secular ornaments because they love those customs, but they celebrate Hanukkah and always honor the meaning of their holiday. They view the decorations simply as “the glitz of the season.” I’ve also seen trees in Jewish households decorated with pearly white bead garland, blue, silver and white ornaments, and topped with a silver Star of David. The idea of a “Hanukkah bush” goes far back – there are references to it from at least 1879. Another interfaith family has a large tree decorated in a Victorian motif – the muted tones and period-themed ornaments don’t reflect any holiday but add a special and beautifully festive tone to their home.
And those are just a few of the ways to enjoy an interfaith holiday for families that either celebrate two – or more – holidays or prefer to walk an secular line but like the outward customs. Decorations like snowflakes, snowmen, icicles, trains, sports teams, and the many hobby- or career-related ornaments and so many more can be used on any type of tree or large indoor plants; they can also spruce up table tops. Ribbons and garland in many colors, as well as nonreligious novelty garland or evergreen boughs, can be placed around doorframes, windows, and on fireplace mantles.
And it’s not just interfaith families who decorate their homes for multiple holidays – some people just like celebrating diversity and can have different decorations representing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more. In fact, there are ornaments that incorporate symbols from several different beliefs whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and unity.
When we think about redoing the décor in our homes, we usually think about replacing or rearranging furnishings and accessories, but the holidays present us with an opportunity to spice up the interior we already have. At this time of year we’re adding to our existing décor in a very personal way that reflects our beliefs and traditions as well as our lifestyles. Old and new co-mingle in an atmosphere of celebration that lasts for only a short period, yet its deep meaning remains a permanent part of our lives.
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very happy holiday season filled with warm memory-making traditions, however you choose to celebrate!