13 Cultural Habits in Indonesia

A cultural habit is a series of behaviours that a group of people with the same background do in their life. These behaviours involve the ways they treat other people, the ways they eat, how they carry out certain actions and so many other things. Below are 13 Cultural Habits in Indonesia. These habits are very common among Indonesians and you might notice some of these behaviours already but continue reading to find out more.

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1. Abbreviating Words

Indonesians like to abbreviate long words or terms. The abbreviated names become more accepted and well known rather than the long version. By shortening the words, it’s easier to say and remember what it is. For example, the very famous monument in Jakarta is called Monas. Monas is actually an abbreviation for Monumen Nasional which means national monument in English.

2. Eating Rice

Rice is the most important staple food in Indonesia. Everyone eats it every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, the people in Indonesia have a special saying for this. The saying goes something like “you have not eaten unless you have eaten rice”. Rice is an important meal that is usually eaten with chicken, meat, vegetables or even noodles with the broth.

Also read: Rice Production in Indonesia

3. Serving Drinks and Food to Guests

When you’re a guest in an Indonesian’s home, you are likely to be treated in a special manner. This particular cultural habit shows how hospitable Indonesians can be. The owner of the home is likely to offer you food, snacks and drinks that are in the house. Some people might even spend extra effort to treat you by going out to buy you food.

4. Accepting Drinks and Food as Guests

Since the home owners have kindly offer you different varieties of food to munch on, the polite thing to do is to accept them. Unless you are allergic to a specific kind of food, it’s best to try the food or drink even if it’s just a little bit. This is also a cultural habit as a guest in someone’s home. The purpose is to show appreciation and gratefulness towards the homeowners.

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5. Eating with Bare Hands

To eat food, we have food utensils that we can use such as a spoon, a fork or a knife. However, Indonesians like it better to consume their food with their bare hands. Some restaurants offer a small bowl of clean water with a slice of lime for you to wash your hand. You can then eat with clean hands.

6. Receiving and Giving Things with the Right Hand

In Indonesia, the right hand is the only hand that is appropriate to give and receive things. It is more polite to use the right hand rather than the left. Even if for some reason a person has to use their left hand then the person would likely say ‘sorry’. Saying sorry means the person acknowledges that the right hand should have been used instead of the left.

Also read: Gift Giving Etiquette in Indonesia

7. Communal Aid

In Indonesia there is a value of gotong royong which can be translated as communal aid. Indonesians believe that humans need each other to reach a certain goal or simply to help each other out. This value has become a cultural habit whereby people would simply help anyone in need without asking for anything in return because they know that it is the right thing to do.

8. Rarely on Time

Sometimes it might be hard to meet up with some Indonesians on time. This is because there is a habit where people do not take time seriously. They think of it as something flexible. Other than that, they might not even realise that they are actually wasting time. To avoid this, some people might even make appointments quicker by an hour than the actual time.

Read more: Indonesian Family Values

9. Taking off Shoes Before Entering Homes

Taking off shoes or any footwear before entering homes is a habit of almost every Indonesians. It’s polite and it shows that you respect their homes by keeping it clean. Even though you have to take your shoes off, you can still wear your socks.

10. Riding Motorcycles Everywhere

Indonesians are big on riding motorcycles. They ride motorcycles basically to any place that is far or near. They don’t like to walk and think that riding the motorcycle is a faster way to reach a destination.

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11. Going to Places in Groups

Most Indonesians people are sociable and like to go to places in groups. People even go to the bathroom in groups. Some people think that going alone in public places would seem sad and weird. It makes you seem anti-social meanwhile Indonesians are very fond of socialising. Going in groups is seen as something fun and special.

12. Smiling

Smiling is a habit that a lot of Indonesians do. They smile to everyone, even the strangers on the streets. Indonesians smile to show politeness. It is a sign of friendliness and it makes you seem more approachable. Those who rarely smiles give off the impression of annoyance and arrogance.

13. Little Bow to Elders

Indonesians who are still young always give a little bow to the elders. This is to show that they respect the elders. The little bow could also be followed with a handshake and a small talk. This kind of behaviour can make the elderly happy because they are being paid attention to.

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Knowing these cultural habits that Indonesians do can help you understand why people act they way they do in Indonesia. Knowing the reasons behind these behaviours can also help you know what Indonesians value the most in their life. More importantly, you can try to follow these behaviours if you want to blend in with the people.