Christmas is widely celebrated by the Christians in Indonesia. People carry out all sorts of traditions and activities to welcome Christmas. If you’ve been wondering what Christmas is like in Indonesia, then read these 25 Facts about Christmas in Indonesia. Knowing these facts will give you more insight about the Christmas celebration in the country.
1. Public Holiday
Christmas in Indonesia is considered as one of the public and popular holiday in Indonesia. This means that people don’t work and don’t go to school during Christmas. The Christians are given the time to celebrate. It hadn’t always been like this. Christmas as a national holiday only started in the year 1993. Every year, Jakarta serves as the host for the celebration in the country. But since 2014, other cities have become hosts too.
2. Public Places Get Decorated
Public places all over Indonesia get decorated for the event. The decoration often starts at the beginning of December. Offices, malls and other kinds of buildings usually hang ornaments with Christmas theme. They hang wreaths, bells, ribbons, garlands and twinkling lights. They even set up small and big Christmas trees. Sometimes cotton are placed on the trees to imitate snow.
3. Celebrated by the Portuguese Descendants in Jakarta
In the Northern side of Jakarta, there is a specific area where many Portuguese descendants live. The place is called Kampung Tugu. They also celebrate Christmas in Indonesia but they have their own way. It’s called Rabo-Rabo. They go around their neighbourhood to play Keroncong music with their friends and family. They also make white streaks on their faces with face powder. It’s a symbol of cleansing the sins away. You may want to read about History of Catholic in Indonesia
4. Performs Nativity Drama in Churches
During Christmas, churches perform nativity drama. The drama often takes place during the Christmas Eve or Christmas day services. Most of the time, it is the children that act out the scene when Jesus was born. It is entertaining for the people to watch. The performance also touches people hearts as they are reminded about the meaning of Christmas.
5. Unique Christmas Trees
Indonesians like to create huge Christmas trees out of different things to make them unique. The most frequent kind of Christmas trees that you would likely see are the ones that are made out of plastic. It’s also a way to recycle the plastic, using them into something more useful. There are even some trees made out of chocolates. In Bali, Christmas trees are made out of chicken feathers. All these unique trees make the celebrations even more special. You may also want to read Christmas Celebrations in Bali.
6. Choir Performance of Christmas Carols
There are choir performances when Christmas comes around. They would sing various Christmas carols. The most popular ones are O Holy Night and Silent Night. These performances happen during the service church. However, they also take place at public places especially in big malls. People that pass by would stop to watch and enjoy their singing. You may want to read about Christmas Traditions in Bali
7. Christmas Cookies
Christians also bake cookies during Christmas. These cookies are shared among their closed ones. The cookies are usually covered in white powder and called Snow White cookies. Also, bakeries or supermarkets are always packed with cookies in jars for people to buy. They are decorated with pretty ribbons. Some sell Gingerbread cookies, Eclairs or cupcakes decorated similar to Christmas trees.
8. Sending Parcels
Christians in Indonesia like to send parcels. These parcels are given to all kinds of people, such as their friends, employees or family members. The parcels often contain food and drinks. There are cookies, chocolates or drinks inside the parcels. They are also decorated beautifully to make the celebration feel merrier.
9. Broadcast on Television
Christmas events are broadcasted on various TV stations in Indonesia. This include the church service. Most of the time, they even broadcast the Christmas service that occurs in other countries. The TV stations also broadcast numerous music concerts during Christmas Eve. These concerts are filled with many popular artists in Indonesia to welcome Christmas day. People at home can tune in to these programs while waiting for the day to arrive. Read more about History of Broadcasting in Indonesia
10. Shooting Bamboo Fire Crackers
Flores played an important part in spreading (look for christian link, history enter indonesia). When Christmas arrives, they celebrate it in a huge way. They have their own bamboo fire crackers. These fire crackers are shot throughout the region. It’s a symbol of their happiness on the birth of Jesus. The sound is so loud that people from miles away can hear it.
11. Shadow Puppet Performance
In the cultural city of Yogyakarta, the Christians celebrate Christmas with a touch of Indonesia’s culture. They hold a shadow puppet performance. The theme of the shadow puppet performance is a special one, which is the birth of Jesus Christ. Other than that, pastors in Yogyakarta would also wear traditional clothes during the Church service for Christmas. Take a look at more interesting facts about Yogyakarta in Indonesia.
12. Santa Gives Presents
Santa would give out all sorts of presents to the Sunday School children. The santa is usually their own teacher which has the most similar body built with the typical santa. In Manado, there is still a tradition where santa comes from one home to another only to give out presents. This is also similar in another city of Indonesia called Ambon. You can often see many santa out on the street during the whole month of December.
13. Visiting Families
Similar to Eid in Indonesia, Christians also open their homes to friends and family relatives during Christmas. They visit each other during the special day. It’s another opportunity to keep up with far away family members as they all have their days off. They eat large meals or cookies together. It’s a great day where people can come together to share stories and happiness.
14. Sacrificing Animal
In the North Sumatra, an animal is sacrificed to celebrate Christmas. The animal could either be an ox, a pig or a buffalo. People donate money to buy the animal. They even start the funding months before Christmas comes. The meat from the animal is used to share among the people in the community. It’s a symbol of togetherness and sharing happiness among all the people during Christmas.
15. Cultural Festival
Festivals are also held when Christmas day arrives. These festivals are mostly cultural. People often spend months beforehand to organise the festivals. They often include traditional music performances, dancing performances and culinary stalls. In Toraja for instance, there is a ritual in the festival called Lettoan. It symbolises the 3 important dimensions in life. The festivals are always ended with huge firework shows that leave people in awe. You may want to read about Most Popular Festival in Indonesia Worth Experiencing
Others Facts (16-25)
If the above facts are still not enough for you, read some more below.
- Visit Families’ Graves: Not leaving out any family members who have passed away.
- Carnival in Manado: Manado is a city in Indonesia. They hold carnival to celebrate Christmas.
- Get Money in Envelope: Children receives some money from the adults.
- Ringing Bells: In churches on Christmas Eve.
- Ship Sirens Go Off: This happens in Maluku to welcome Christmas.
- Pork Feast: People in Papua prepare pork meal to celebrate togetherness during Christmas.
- Days Off: Employees get some couple of days off.
- Sending Christmas Cards: To friends or family members.
- Lighting Candles: A symbol for Jesus, bringing light into the world.
- Eating Out: People eat in restaurants to celebrate Christmas Eve.
When you come to Indonesia during Christmas time, you will see some of these facts come to live. The atmosphere is a celebratory one as the Christians welcome the 25th of December.