It's not hard to love Christmas. Everything about it is easy to enjoy, from spending time with family to holiday movies to wonderful meals and delicious treats. But it's worth taking a look at how the holiday is celebrated around the world to get even more enjoyment from it. While the heart and soul of Christmas will always be present, and while several basics will likely remain, there are also plenty of differences that are interesting.
Indonesia is a perfect example of this, and taking a look at Christmas in Indonesia may help you get a better understanding of how others celebrate, and even inspire you to take up a few new traditions of your own. Only about 10% of the population is actually Christian, but that adds up to roughly 20 million people. As such, there are plenty of celebrations around the region. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the main Indonesian Christmas celebrations.
Indonesians will usually attend church services on Christmas Eve as well as on Christmas Day. These services include a performance of the nativity drama along with prayers and songs such as O Holy Night and Silent Night.
The country doesn't generally use real trees. Instead, artificial trees are much more common. They're put up in early December and stay up throughout the year. There are some real pine trees used in homes, and some may even be made of chicken feathers - a truly unique take on the Christmas tree.
TV stations in Indonesia broadcast musical concerts and events including an annual Christmas celebration event that is held by the government. Along with these, Hollywood movies are shown on the televisions as well. The most popular Christmas movies in the nation are the Home Alone series.
Santa Claus is still part of Christmas in Indonesia, too. Here, he's called Sinterklass - a holdover from the years that Indonesia was under Netherlands' rule. Sinterklass plays the same role here that he does in any other nation, bringing presents as well as popping up in shopping malls around the country.
Speaking of presents, the exchange of gifts is also common for families and friends to do.
Some locations have larger gatherings that are held by multiple families. Each family brings homemade traditional Christmas foods and everyone shares in the feast. Typical dishes vary by region, for example: Manado - Chicken Rica-Rica and Klapertart; Ambon - Yellow Fish Soup; and East Nusa Tenggara - Cake Bagea.
Cookies are also a huge part of the holiday in Indonesia, and you'll find all types of the sweet treats including butter cookies with pineapple jam filling, cheese cookies, and butter cookies coated in powdered sugar and cheese.
And of course, you'll need to know how to say Merry Christmas in Indonesia. It's "Selamat Natal"!
You'll see a lot of similarities here to Christmas in other locations, but as always there are a few little differences that help the holiday in Indonesia stand out. It's worth learning more about other cultures, not only to appreciate our own, but to see what links us and connects us all as humans. And holiday celebrations are a great way to do just that.