Can My Jewish Relatives Be Godparents to My Catholic Baby?

Plus: Flowers for bereaved Hindus, First Communion gifts, and why the date of Easter keeps changing.

BY: Laura Sheahen

Have a question about another faith's religious ceremonies--or your own? E-mail with "Etiquette" in the subject line.

I'm Sikh and have been invited to a party for a friend's son who's having his Communion. What gifts would be appropriate? Something more religious or secular?

First Communion gifts tend to be more serious-minded and educational than birthday presents, so pass on the G.I. Joe X-treem Tanks. That said, a non-violent secular toy is probably fine, depending on how devout the family is. If you want to play it safe, lean towards religion. The following are good bets:

  • A children's book that teaches values or, if the child is Catholic, that illustrates the life of a saint.
  • A "First Communion Day Album," often available in Hallmark stores.
  • A Bible-related game. These are sold in Christian stores or major toy stores and include board games like "Bible Pictionary."

    More devout options like prayer books can be found in Christian stores and websites like this one. It's probable that your friend's son will receive a children's Bible (and a rosary, if they're Catholic) from family members, so you might want to skip those.

    If you're more comfortable with a secular gift, go with a white picture frame for photos of the Big Day.

    Minor linguistic point: Christians "receive" Communion rather than "having" it. So when you greet your friend's son, you might say "Congratulations on receiving your First Communion."

    Why is the date for Easter different each year?

    It has to do with celestial beings, but not the ones you might think. Most Western Christian churches, including Protestant and Catholic churches, celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (whew!).

    Eastern churches like the Greek Orthodox Church use a different calendar. Their Pascha (Easter) falls a week later than Western Easter.

    The aunt of a practicing Hindu coworker has died, and the family is traveling overseas for the funeral services. What would be an appropriate way for our business to express condolences? Are flowers for the family when they return appropriate? We don't want to offend or ignore a more appropriate tradition.

    Sending flowers would certainly be a kind gesture and would offend no one, but keep in mind that it's a Western tradition not common in most Hindu communities. If you do send them, avoid bright colors (white is traditionally associated with Hindu funerals)--you might try white or pale yellow flowers.

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