Indonesia is a diverse country culturally. Indonesia has six recognized religions: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Christianity (Protestant), and Chinese Traditional Religion. Although Christians and Catholics are the minority in Indonesia, the constitution gives them freedom to worship. Christmas celebrations include a worship service on Christmas Eve and celebrating Christmas Day with family and sometimes another worship service. Many areas of Indonesia also have their own Christmas traditions. Here are some of those:
- North Sumatra
The Batak people of North Sumatra are Christian. They welcome Christmas with Marbinda, a tradition where they slaughter buffaloes. In addition, there is also a Christmas Bazaar, a Buffalo contest, performing arts, crafts and culinary exhibits.
Christians and Catholics in Bali celebrate Christmas by using local Balinese clothes: kebaya, scarves, and cloth parchment. They decorate their homes with unique Balinese ornaments, called Penjor, which are made with bamboo stems and young coconut leaves. They also practice a tradition called mebat and ngejot. Mebat is a tradition to make Balinese food and ngejot is a tradition to give that food to their non-Christian neighbors.
Manado has one of the largest Christian populations in Indonesia. Before Christmas, they hold Pre-Christmas worship services starting on December 1st and going until Christmas Eve. In addition, they do kuncikan, which means “to wrap up.” They “wrap up” their Christmas celebrations by traveling around the city and to nearby villages to visit friends and relatives, and sometimes also wear costumes.
Christmas celebrations in Maluku start in early December. Christmas Celebration begins by Santa Claus visiting children’s homes in Ambon to give gifts. When Christmas Eve arrives, everyone in Ambon will sound off sirens and bells to gather everyone together to celebrate.
In Papua, they practice a tradition called barapen, or grilled rock, to celebrate Christmas. Barapen is a traditional way of cooking food, usually a pig, in a hole, with hot rocks. Papuan communities also do this tradition for weddings, welcoming guests and funerals. In addition, they play Christmas songs for 24 hours and adorn every city in Papua with a Christmas theme.
If you are traveling during the Christmas season, call us for your travel medical insurance. One of our professional international insurance agents, http://www.gninsurance.com/, will be glad to serve you. Or call us at 480-633-9500 or our toll free number at 866-636-9100. We have an email of in case you want to email us your request. Many of our agents and staff have lived and served overseas for many years. In fact the founder of Good Neighbor Insurance (GNI) lived overseas for 32 years in Indonesia. His sons were born and raised in Indonesia until graduation from high school at Jakarta International School.