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Ways to Make the Holidays More Inclusive

Christmas is such a fun and festive season that many of us desperately need during these dark and gloomy months spent at home due to COVID-19. The scent of peppermint bark, hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and the prospect of finishing online school and changing into fuzzy pajamas are all elements that make this year’s Christmas all the more special. However, while Christmas is a joyful and merry occasion for all of us, irrespective of cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs, it is known to most of us that these traditions are Westernized.  


To make Christmas more inclusive for all, it is important to invite your friends to Christmas parties and other holiday-themed parties. Do your research on their traditions, dishes they like, and other ways to incorporate their cultures into the celebration. For instance, Ethiopians like to eat doro wat (chicken cut into 12 pieces of meat, after a 40-day vegan fast) on Christmas Day. Maybe organize a holiday themed potluck in the month of December and ask your friends to bring a cultural dish. Not only will those result in more discussion and sharing of cultures, but it will strengthen your relationships. Another important thing to keep in mind when hosting these parties is to ensure that your party caters to diverse diets (vegetarian, vegan diets, no beef for Hindu friends, etc), so that no one is excluded. 


Take the time to learn more about Hanukkah and the Bodhi tree to enhance your understanding of other cultures during the holidays. These types of small gestures will cause your friends to feel more accepted and happier that their friends are aware of their cultures. Aside from wishing your friends “happy holidays” and making them feel like they’re part of the celebration, you can also educate yourself about Ramadan and mark your calendars to have special celebrations with your friends in the future. During future events, you can try organizing a celebratory lunch for your friends and even give them gifts to make them feel included. 


Lastly, remember not to judge your friends who may not feel comfortable celebrating Christmas. Don’t exclude them from Secret Santa, or single them out if they don’t want to participate in potlucks and other festivities. No, they aren’t being a Grinch or anti-Christmas. They might not feel comfortable due to their own cultural backgrounds and religion. Try and understand why your friend may not be participating (don’t assume, stereotype, or judge!) and be compassionate – which really is what the spirit of Christmas is all about. 


Overall, remember to think of different backgrounds when you plan parties. For instance, if you know someone who may feel uncomfortable, try and hold a New Year’s Eve party instead of something Christmas-themed to make them feel included. With the pandemic you may even have less limitations now that people don’t have to drive through snow to get to parties – you can simply organize these parties through Zoom! Have a safe and happy holiday season!


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