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How to Celebrate the Holidays in an Interfaith Marriage

Honoring two religious traditions can be a delicate balancing act. Stay on an even keel with these tips.


  • 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 how you can both preserve your traditions.
  • 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 trying to visit everyone.
  • Step 2: Be open-minded If you find yourself balking at one of your spouse's requests, think of it as helping a loved one celebrate any other big occasion in their life, like a birthday: The celebration is about them, not you. You are not betraying your own religion by respecting your spouse's.
  • Step 3: Be supportive If you agree to observe one of your spouse's traditions, be gracious about it.
  • Step 4: Compromise Consider compromising on the less significant parts of the holidays, like deciding to keep decorations religion-neutral.
  • Step 5: Decide on gift-giving Agree on a gift-giving plan. Will you exchange gifts on both holidays? Should you alternate years regarding which holiday will involve gifts? If you have children, will they get presents for both occasions? What about your extended families?
  • TIP: If you're giving children gifts for both holidays, spend the same amount of money for both occasions. Otherwise, you send the message that one holiday is more important than the other.
  • Step 6: Create new traditions Create your own family traditions that combine the best of both your beliefs.
  • Step 7: Stay flexible Be willing to make adjustments as the years go by and circumstances change.
  • FACT: Nearly 50 percent of American Jews marry outside their faith.

You Will Need

  • List of holiday rituals
  • Open-mindedness
  • Compromises
  • A gift-giving plan
  • New traditions

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