Growing up in a Jewish household, Easter was a holiday that I celebrated with my friends during the months of Spring. Easter baskets were filled with goodies and sometime during the holiday weekend, my friend and I would exchange our baskets we made for each other. It wasn’t until I married my husband that I learned what the actual holiday really represented and meant to the Catholic religion.
Deciding to marry out of my religion brought upon many questions that I needed answered before proceeding to have children. This was something my husband and I discussed many times before making a commitment to each other. Will my children still be considered Jewish even though their father was Catholic? Will they grow up feeling confused being surrounded by both religions? Will it make them feel uncomfortable knowing that both of their parents don’t practice the same religion? Lastly, will they feel pressure to pick a religion and not disappoint one of us in the future? These were necessary questions that we needed answers to.
To be honest, my love for my husband and his love for me over powered all communications we had about the topic of religion. Our religions were not as important as spending our lives together. This was the only answer we needed to know before we got married and started our little family.
For as long as I can remember, my husband and I practiced both religions in our home. Every holiday was spent at the dinner table with our immediate family and some of our friends. During Christmas, a tree was up and so was the Menorah. During Easter, we filled the baskets with goodies for our kids and enjoyed a Passover dinner. There was never an issue which holiday to celebrate because we welcomed both of our religions in to our home. We also made it a point to respect others’ religions that were different from ours and educate our children to do the same.
Our families, have recognized how important this merger of religions meant to us and have taken every step to respect our choices. They have both acknowledge both holidays in our homes as well as theirs to show us that it has been accepted. Truly, the only thing they wish for us is happiness. If this is what makes us happy, standing in the way will only bring distance.
Here’s a list of helpful tips that will allow for a smoother, a more memorial holiday get together:
Respecting your spouses religion is a must and should go without saying. Your religion is not superior to his or any other. Marrying someone that you know in advance will have different beliefs and traditions is the first step in understanding that this is a personal choice that you’ve made and you’re happy with it. That is why mutual respect for each others’ religion is essential. If your husband attended church on Christmas Eve and wants to attend church on Sunday morning, then you should not stand in his way and vice versa. As long as no one pushes their own religion on the other, respect for their beliefs is once again, lack for a better word, crucial for their relationship.
A decision, with both partners mutually involved, should be made as to where each holidays will be spent. This is not written in stone, but a tentative plan is important. If Hanukkah was spent with your family, then spend Easter Sunday with your in-laws. Now don’t misunderstand the family schedule, as both sets of parents should be invited to all the family gatherings, especially if the holiday is spent in your home which is the neutral zone sort of speak. Every family has a schedule that they follow. The holidays are broken up into who will host which holiday party in their home. Get involved and decide which you would like to host and which you would prefer to attend. Don’t get too consumed into making a list and handing out the annual holiday party agenda to everyone in your family but over time, you will come to some decision and keeping your mind open is the key. As long as the final product is you and your spouse can enjoy the holidays without any religious hangups getting in the way.
Doing a little research on your spouses religion and important holidays is beneficial for a more enjoyable time. There’s never any fear you’ll be put on the spot about your knowledge of your religion or your husbands. Did you know that on Easter meat is not served. Passover also has its traditions, Matza is served because bread is not allowed. These are little facts that are of the essence for a successful family get together. It shows respect not only for your husband but his family too. And you know what they say “A little kindness goes a long way”, especially when the next step is applied.
Prepare a special dish that speaks volumes. You’ll not only impress your hubby but your children will carry on your traditions so teach them by allowing them to see you in action. If it’s Easter you are celebrating than perhaps a traditional family dish your husband used to love as a child. Perhaps a little private chat with your mother in law is in order to make this happen. If its Passover you’re celebrating then a yummy Matza dish is a great choice.
A little DIY decorating is in order especially if you have little ones. You want to make sure that little things like the decor doesn’t make a big difference, but it does. The pictures will bring back memories in years to come and you want to make sure they are beautiful and memorable for you and your family. A little egg decorating with the kids is a great way to bring in Easter and it will serve as a great center piece. Get your family involved, they’ll thank you for it later.
Creating a balance is what separates the happy interfaith families from the ones that suppress to pear pressure from their family and loved ones. The backgrounds may be different, the traditions maybe different but the reason for celebration is the same. Spending time with your family should be reason enough to get together, regardless if it’s sedar dinner or an Easter Sunday feast.
By: Ida L.