Every year the spirit of Christmas is always palpable and full of enthusiasm in my country despite the fact that majority of Indonesians are Muslim.
Although the Christians account for only 10% of Indonesian population, they still spread the happiness and the spirit of Christmas in commemorating this joyous occasion. This Christmas spirit is an incredible sentiment. Even those who don’t believe the holiday has a spiritual significance will revel in festive ways.
Indonesians celebrate Christmas in more diverse ways than we can imagine:
In Jakarta and other big cities, Christmas is mostly highlighted by special holiday packages offered by hotels and restaurants. Special foods and free flowing cocktails, mocktails or sparkling wine are the most common complimentary items at Christmas events.
In Central Java, they celebrate Christmas by having Wayang Kulit (Javanese Shadow Puppets) show in the church.
You even can find a local Santa wearing a traditional striped lurik (an Indigenous Javanese woven fabric) that knocks on doors and speaks in polite Javanese.
Living in a tropical country, this Santa doesn’t ride a sleigh pulled by Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, but pedals a rickshaw, followed by his elves also dressed in Javanese attire.
In one village located on the slope of Mount Merapi near Yogya, Christmas is celebrated amongst the farmers in a very unique way as you can see in the following picture:
In one of the churches in East Java, the choir sings songs in Javanese along the pentatonic melody of a group of traditional musicians playing gamelan.
In Bekasi (suburb of Jakarta), the congregation follows a service in Betawi and sings gospel songs in the same language.
And guess what the local Christmas treat is?
The sweet sticky cake made of glutinous rice replaces the Western style Christmas cakes or ginger bread.