In December, many people throw parties to celebrate the end of a year and to show appreciation to loved ones. However, before hanging a wreath, lighting a tree or planning a holiday party, make sure that your decorations and celebrations show your inclusivity.
When most people think about the holidays, the most common celebration that comes to mind is Christmas. Though the celebration features images of Santa, elves, reindeer and other non-religious figures, at its root, Christmas is a Christian holiday.
Christianity is without a doubt the largest religion in North America, but even then, there are still millions of people who don’t identify as Christian and millions more who simply don’t celebrate Christmas. Only emphasizing Christmas may put some people in a position to celebrate in a way that is inconsistent with their beliefs or may exclude them from the festivities altogether.
For many religious individuals, their religion is a big part of what defines them and the values they hold. Religious holidays can be reminders or expressions of those values and when we don’t make attempts to at least be aware of those other belief systems, it can send a negative message to those people.
Many different events, both spiritual, religious and tradition-based, are celebrated in many different ways during the holidays.
The first step to inclusivity this season is realizing that people celebrate a variety of holidays during this time of year and some people choose to celebrate none. Be respectful of these differences by taking an interest in other people’s traditions and making them feel welcome. Don’t be afraid to ask people what holidays they celebrate, if any.
If you have friends who celebrate other holidays and the calendar you use does not list them, find out the dates and record them as reminders. Take a few minutes to mark your address book with the holidays that your loved ones celebrate. When writing holiday cards, you can always make an effort to recognize their holiday and acknowledge the importance of their celebration to show them that you genuinely care.
Make sure that your holiday party isn’t a Christmas party in disguise. When you’re choosing decorations and food, try to make them more general and not specific to any religion. You can always encourage people to share their celebrations through stories, decorations and foods that they can bring to the parties and events you hold.
Finally, celebrating inclusiveness and diversity is about more than just changing labels and titles. Being inclusive is about using the holiday celebration time to build understanding and awareness of the traditions and beliefs of others. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t been very holiday-inclusive over the past few years. The important thing is being able to realize how you can improve going forward and make an effort to make positive changes.
Remember the holidays are a time to celebrate and have fun. Being inclusive ensures that the people we want to celebrate with have a great time with us while feeling appreciated and understood.