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12 Ways of How do Indonesian Celebrate Christmas

by Tri Setiya

Christmas becomes awaited moment for most of Christians in the world. As a country with 16.5 million Christians and 6.9 million followers of Roman Catholicism, Christmas Day Celebration in Indonesia is done with very different traditions in different regions. Here are the 12 how Indonesian celebrate Christ mas.

  1. Creating Christmas tree

Although this is a common activity in Christmas, Indonesia has the different tradition of making Christmas tree. Usually, there is a competition conducting in the church or even in some department stores of Indonesia. The participants of the competition could be various. In Bali, there is also a competition of creating Christmas tree from the recycle material such as plastic and paper. It is aimed to support the government program for environment.

  1. Sharing the foods

Sharing the foods during Christmas is a mandatory activity in Indonesia. Although there are many different religions in Indonesia, the Christians usually will give the foods for their neighbor who embrace Islam or other religions. It shows that Indonesia is the harmonious country ever. They could live together very well although they have the different races, religions, and even tribes.

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  1. Family gathering

Family gathering during Christmas is a must. In Indonesia, there will be a holiday during Christmas until the day of new-year comes. This long holiday is used for some people to go to hometown and have family gathering there. They would meet some relatives or family whom they have never seen before. (Read also: Family Customs in Indonesia)

  1. Having the different form of praying

If worship is usually consists of prayer and sermon, Indonesia has the different way to modify the praying. The churches usually feature Christmas Drama. But as the times change, modern church usually makes a short film to be performed at worship time. The story taken is usually about the birth of the Lord Jesus, or His teachings associated with daily life. In addition to drama there is also Choir, Dance, and others.

  1. Exchange gifts

Christmas is the perfect moment to share love, one of them is actualized in a gift form. The gift exchange traditions at Christmas are not to be missed. At home with family or with friends, or at work with colleagues, the tradition of Christmas gift exchange is always awaited. (Read also: Gift Giving Etiquette in Indonesia)

  1. Secret Santa

In Indonesia, one of the traditions to exchange the famous gift is Secret Santa. Secret Santa itself is a tradition of exchanging gifts that have been arranged and organized well before. Usually, Secret Santa is performed by a group of friends consisting of several people.

The procedure is very simple. Before exchanging gifts, you will usually make a lottery to decide who will be rewarded. Everyone will only know one name that will be given a gift, while the person who was given the gift should not know who will become his Santa. The identity of the gift-giver is kept secret in this tradition. This is the reason why this tradition is named Secret Santa or Santa Secret.

  1. Cooking Traditional Menu for Christmas

In Christmas, most of Indonesian would cook the traditional menu. They will cook in larger amount than usual. It is because there will be many guests come to house. So, they have to serve the drink and food really well. The menu is usually the traditional food from their region. In Ambon, where almost of the inhabitants are Christians, they would cook Ikan kuah kuning and porpocis cake.

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  1. Cuci Negeri in Ambon

Christians in Ambon, especially in Naku Country, have a unique tradition of welcoming Christmas and New Year named Cuci Negeri. This tradition has a symbol of purification and self-purification from the sins committed throughout the year.

The ceremony of Cuci Negeri tradition begins by gathering at the house of the clan community or Soa to perform their customary rituals. After that, residents gather to the custom house or Baileo while singing songs in the local language while dancing to the accompaniment of tifa. Women brought in the form of betel, betel nut, and sopi, traditional Ambonese drink. On Christmas Eve, residents ring the church bells and ship sirens simultaneously.

  1. Marbinda

Batak community in North Sumatra has a unique tradition at Christmas called Marbinda. This tradition is the tradition of slaughtering an animal together during Christmas. Uniquely, the slaughtered animal must be purchased by a joint venture between the celebrating citizens. If there are many participants of the joint, they could slaughter buffalo or cow. Conversely, if there are just a few of joints, then the animals that will be slaughtered only pigs.

On the day of Christmas, the animal is then cut and the flesh is distributed to all citizens. The slaughtering and sharing of the meat in the Marbinda tradition is called marhobas.

  1. Penjor in Bali

The most of churches in Bali are decorated with bamboo stems decorated with janur, Balinese ornament called Penjor. The decoration makes the Christmas celebration in Bali similar to the Galungan celebration of Hindus in Bali. In other words, the element of Balinese culture is still very strong in the Christmas celebration of Christians on the Island of the Gods.

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  1. Rabo-Rabo

The unique tradition of welcoming the second Christmas comes from Jakarta, precisely in Kampung Tugu. In this area known as the residential community of Portuguese descent who have a quite unique tradition to welcome Christmas.

After the Christmas service, residents in the area visited the tomb of relatives, which then continued with the Rabo-rabo tradition. The tradition of rabo-rabo is the tradition of playing keroncong music while traveling around the houses. Uniquely, every citizen who visited must join keroncong music until the last house visited.

  1. Kunci Taon

If Christmas is generally only celebrated on December 25, then in Manado Christmas celebrations have started since December 1. Every day until December 25, Christians in Manado perform pre-Christmas services. The series of Christmas celebrations end with the Key Taon tradition held in the first week of January. In that tradition, people do parade around town or village with unique costume.

Those are how do Indonesian celebrate Christ mas.  Some of them have pretty unique celebrations right? The most important thing is, in among cultural diversities in Indonesia, the Christmas celebration in Indonesia could run very well.


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