Christmas Through Culture

Christmas has been celebrated in Indonesia for hundred of years since the arrival of the Portuguese and the Dutch to occupy Indonesia. They spread Christianity in Indonesia, most of it in Eastern part of Indonesia like  Maluku, North Sulawesi,  East Nusa Tenggara and Papua.

Celebrating Christmas in my country is different from other western countries. There is no snow here, but it’s okay, Christmas is not identic with snow anyway.

If you go to malls and department stores you will find many Christmas ornaments decoration, children who sing Christmas carols, Santa Claus, decorative Christmas cakes, and etc. But not or rarely in private houses.

We just do a simple Christmas decoration like Christmas tree, some may adding candles, Christmas cards, flowers, etc. Just simple and moderate.

Meanwhile, Christmas Eve and Day masses take on a local feel in different churches.

Aside from church services, Santa and the Christmas tree, food has always been part of the celebration.

And what’s on the dinner table depends on where you’re celebrating.

In Ambon

‘Makan Patita’ or literally translated as ’Feasting Together or Potluck’ is a tradition of the people of Maluku celebrates special occasion like Christmas.

To properly serve a ‘makan patita’, numerous coconut leaves are neatly arranged on an open space, which could be in the garden of a house or the plaza in front of a church.

In Manado

The must-have items at many family Christmas feasts in Manado, is Babi Putar, or spit roast pig.

This suckling pig, which involves the whole pig, needless to say, takes the biggest space on the table.

In Tanah Karo

A little town about two hours drive south of Medan called Kabanjahe, is the epicenter of a traditional culinary scene that will astound even the most adventurous eaters.

Batak people are majority Christian and so are not restricted to halal food. During Christmas they prepare their traditional dish named ‘Babi Panggang Karo’ (roast pork) – often shortened to BPK — which is adored by locals and has become nationally famous.

BPK is served as roasted pork slices with three accompaniments: a bowl of broth made from the essence of boiled pig’s bones, a platter of porcine blood cooked with ‘andaliman’ (Szechuan pepper) and chili, and a saucer of extra-hot chili sauce.

So as different regions in Indonesia have their own ways of celebrating Christmas, it is all about spending the time with friends and family.

It reminds us of how important our loved ones are to us and to cherish them.

No matter how busy you are and/or wherever you are now, Christmas is a time to go back home and spend quality time with your loved ones.



2 responses to “Christmas Through Culture

  1. Hello,
    Thanks for writing this unique post about Christmas celebration in Indonesia. Just a little comment about the favorite dish for Christmas in Manado. You were absolutely right about the roasted pork… but not about the Ketoprak. We don’t eat ketoprak for Christmas and ketoprak is not a Manadonese dish… I would say that the traditional food that’s popular during Christmas would be nasi jaha.

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