How to Be Respectful of Friends Who Don't Celebrate the Same Holidays as You

As excited as you might be about the arrival of the holiday season, it's also important to remember that not everyone celebrates exactly the way you do.

While some of your friends might recognize different holidays than you, others may not observe any at all. Here's a quick guide to remaining respectful of them during the holiday season—and learning a little bit about them in the process.

Don't Make Assumptions

Showing respect starts with not making assumptions about anything. Just because most of the people you've known growing up have celebrated the same holidays as you doesn't make your experience universal. Never assume you know what holidays people do or don't celebrate, and don't be afraid to talk openly with people to find out more about themselves.

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(via Unsplash)

 

Ask About Their Culture

The best way to learn more about people and truly respect them during the holidays is to express your interest in their beliefs and culture. If you're genuinely curious and considerate, chances are they'll be happy to inform you about their traditions and enlighten you. Don't be patronizing, or make comparisons to your own holiday celebrations. You might be surprised to find out how many of your assumptions were incorrect, and that their holidays aren't just like yours but with a different coat of paint. Just because certain holidays are celebrated around the same time of the year doesn't make them the same. And if you're a little shy about being that straightforward, you can also get a lot of great information by asking about winter break plans and asking follow-up questions when they mention something interesting.

 

Give Them the Option to Be Included

Just because someone doesn't celebrate the same holidays as you doesn't mean you should assume that they don't want to be included in any end-of-the-year festivities or celebrations. Even if you don't think they'll be interested, it never hurts to offer. If you're the one coordinating, you can make the situation more welcoming by avoiding holiday-specific games and events, and instead making the celebration more generically winter or New Year-themed. If you like giving people gifts, ask them if they'd want one before you make shopping plans—and if they say yes, try placing it in neutral wrapping paper that's not explicitly holiday-themed.

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(via Unsplash)

 

Never Force Participation

At the end of the day, the most important thing is respecting your friend's wishes. Even if you know the party will be really fun, allow them to make their own decisions about how they engage with the holidays. Never use shame or pressure to make someone feel like they're obligated to take part in your holiday celebrations. It's the thought that counts, and the most important thing is that you leave them feeling comfortable and heard.

 

Not in a relationship this winter? Click HERE for memes you'll relate to if you're single this holiday season.