Mixed couples: Surviving the holidays

Being part of a couple in which each person has a different heritage may make the holiday season especially difficult for some families because you’re both bringing customs you grew up with. Mixed couples face the challenge of melding the traditions that mean the most to them with the ones important to their partner. You don’t have to throw in the towel or suffer through the holidays. Compromise and create new traditions to make family celebrations joyful for everyone involved.


In some cases, couples come from two different religious backgrounds. If you are Catholic, it may be difficult to choose what services and customs you’ll make a part of your family if your partner is Jewish or Lutheran. Perhaps extended family members will criticize or become upset with your differences. A good way to get around this is to attend both religious services. You’ll each gain an insight to your partner’s religion and your holidays won’t be full of bickering and hard feelings.

Choosing customs

Perhaps you grew up celebrating Día de los Muertos, but your partner went to Halloween parties. Or, you left cookies for Santa while your partner prayed in front of the nativity every night for the nine days leading up to Christmas. You don’t have to choose one or the other. Why not do both? It will make you feel closer and gain an insight into each other’s traditions, and you might be surprised to find one that you love and want to continue. Have a conversation with your partner, decide which customs mean the most to each of you, and make a plan to include them in your holiday celebrations.

Meeting relatives

Most families gather extended members in one place during holidays, but mixed couples have the added problem of helping both families understand their cultural differences. This means that you and your partner are probably going to meet new people, some of whom might not understand your holiday customs and traditions. Before meeting each other’s families, talk about what is going to happen so you’ll both be ready when something happens that you’ve never experienced. You might be taken aback at your partner’s family tradition of singing carols around the piano for hours, while your partner might be surprised by the food your family serves at Thanksgiving. Being prepared saves feelings and helps you feel like a part of your partner’s family.

Involving kids

Melding your different customs and heritage is hard enough as mixed couples before you have children, but after welcoming your kids into the family, things might get more complicated. You both want to share your favorite holiday traditions and might feel like your children are choosing sides if they happen to enjoy some more than others. You can’t control your children’s preferences or feelings, so keep up with everyone’s favorites and as your children get older, the familiarity of your mixed heritages create a special and memorable holiday season.

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