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Birthday Celebrations In Indonesia – Traditions

by Sares

Birthday. Perhaps the most awaited day in everyone’s life. Gifts, wishes, treats and much more will fill your entire day, making you the king or queen for the day. There are many things to do during a birthday celebration, but most people will celebrate it with dinner or lunch together with friends of families. Again, birthday celebrations, even though it is celebrated world wide by everyone, the celebrations it self are varies depending on the cultural influences, countries, and budgets.

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So if I ask you how do you celebrate your birthday in your country, I’m pretty sure your answers will be different than mine, and it is acceptable. There is no right or wrong way of celebrating birthdays. Now, we are going to see some birthday celebrations in Indonesia.

Indonesia, is one of the largest countries in the world, with ten of thousands of islands spreading around the equatorial water. Being the home of another hundred of thousands of tribes, Indonesians have their own way of celebrating festivals, including birthday. Birthday celebrations in Indonesia are varies depending on what tribe or cultural background you are from but mostly we can divide the differences of celebrations into two, that is urban birthday celebrations and rural birthday celebrations

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Urban Birthday Celebrations In Indonesia

What we call urban is usually meaning the town people, such as the residents of big cities of Indonesia, such as Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, Bandung, Bali and much more. For those who are staying in big cities such as that, usually, they tend to celebrate the birthday in a more fancy way. Some will hire an event manager to make one memorable birthday, yet again, all those will depend whether you have the budget or not.

We have compiled few of birthday celebrations in Indonesia by the urban people as follows :

1. Family Gathering

It all started with a quiet simple way, the gathering of friends and families. Where family members gathered to wish the birthday girl or boy, meet and chat with other family members before the cake is out. the family gathering can happen at home or the venue of the party, either home or some hotels. Usually, urban people of Indonesia tend to celebrate a birthday and any other celebrations by renting some buildings.

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2. Cake cutting

Just like any other birthday celebration. For Indonesian urban people, the cake is a must. Usually, with cake, there’s another sweets, desserts or other cultural food to be provided. These foods do have significant values for the family, or usually, they will serve the favorite food of birthday girl or birthday boy. Before cutting the cake, they will make a wish and the blowing the candle while the guest will sing happy birthday song in Indonesia, which is called Selamat Ulang Tahun.

While the birthday girl or birthday boy blows the candle, the guest will switch the song to Tiup Lilinya which literally translates to Blow Off The Candle as a way of encouraging to blow the off candles. After blowing the candles, the birthday girl or boy will cut the cake and the guest will once again switch the song to Potong Kuenya, which translates to Cut The Cake, to encourage the birthday girl or birthday boy to cut the cake faster.

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3. Dinner 

After the cake cutting and some pictures taken, dinners then will be served to the guests. Usually, these foods for dinner have been served along with the building or hotel choices which were chosen by the family members of the birthday girl or birthday boy. The menu for  birthday  celebrations in Indonesia usually consist of:

  1. Various types of Chicken.
  2. Various types of Fish.
  3. Various types of Seafood.
  4. Various types of Beef.
  5. Various types of Noddle.
  6. Various types of rice.
  7. Various types of local foods, such as satay, bakso, mie rebus.
  8. Various types of western or foreign foods.
  9. Juices
  10. Water

4. Torture

By ‘torture’ we did not mean any extreme physical activities and bully. Usually, the friends and families of the birthday girl or birthday boy will create a surprise for the birthday girl or birthday boy. Some of these surprises included as follow :

  • Throwing floor.
  • throwing rotten eggs.
  • Thrown into water or pool.
  • Being dressed as clown.
  • Being thrown coke or any soda drink.

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5. Theme birthday party 

Usually, urban people of Indonesia like fancy pieces of stuff such as doing a birthday party with a certain theme such as pirates, soldiers, certain super heroes characters, or certain cartoon characters. The birthday girl or birthday boy will also be dressed as a certain character as per the theme. The whole place will be decorated accordingly and some will even serve the foods that will suit the theme.

6. Speech

Usually, there will be few speeches from the closed friends of the birthday girl or birthday boy, even some by the family members. This speech usually will talk about the birthday girl or birthday boy, their life and achievements so far which had been done or accomplished by the birthday girl or birthday boy and the wishes for the birthday girl or birthday boy.

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7. Gifts

No birthday is complete without gifts from your loved ones, friends or families. Some will be opening the gifts at the moment and some will save it to be opened later after the party has ended.

8. Second round of birthday party

Usually, people in urban parts of Indonesia will celebrate the party two times, one time in the morning /afternoon with some close relatives, friends, and families. Then the second round will begin around evening time which can go up to night time. Usually, the second round is reserved to be attended by work colleagues, neighbors, mostly work related guests rather than personal

9. Alcohol

Even though alcohol consumptions are not illegal in some part of Indonesia. But we can rarely see birthday celebrations even in the urban area of Indonesia are serving alcohols. This is perhaps because the cultural effects which most Indonesian will not be drinking and often to be considered taboo by certain religions.

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We have seen some of birthday celebrations in the urban area of Indonesia, now let’s see some of the birthday celebrations in the rural areas of Indonesia.

Birthday Celebration in Rural Indonesia

Birthday celebrations between urban areas and rural areas of Indonesia are usually the same. Some of the differences are that rural people tend to celebrate the birthday in a less fancy way than the urban people of Indonesia and that we can witness a lot of traditions from traditional food to attire filled the celebrations. Some of the way rural people celebrating a birthday in Indonesia.

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1. Nasi Tumpeng’s Tradition

Nasi tumpeng is a must have for any birthday celebrations in rural areas of Indonesia. Nasi tumpeng is a yellow colored rice which is put in a wadah (a plate type made from bamboo woven together) in a shape like a cone. Usually, the wadah is being rounded by various types of vegetables or meats. The rice itself can be various types of rice, such as plain white rice, yellow rice or uduk rice. (Read also: Social Life in Indonesia)

2. Noodles

Noodles is another must have culinary dishes during any birthday celebrations. Apart from being one of the staple food in Indonesia, Indonesian people, especially in the rural area believes that serving noodles for the birthday girl or birthday boy may make them live longer just like the noodles which are usually long.

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3. Traditional Attire

Both, the birthday girl or boy and the guests will attend  the birthday celebrations by wearing their traditional attires. This is because they value their cultural and heritage roots. Then, if boy or girl who still in teen age, usually, they will invite their neighborhood directly by her or himself.

Those are various types and ways of birthday celebration in Indonesia. Have you witness any one of them?

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