How Do Indonesian Christians Celebrate Christmas?
Indonesian Christians celebrate Christmas by going to church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. At church on Christmas Eve, the Indonesian version of the song “Silent Night”(Malam Kudus) is sung altogether. This may include a candle-light service too. Some families may celebrate by having lunch or dinner at a restaurant or at home after church service. They may also invite friends and celebrate as a large group.
In early December, shopping malls put up large Christmas trees and decorations. Many people like taking pictures with these large Christmas trees, including non-Christians too! Most Indonesian Christians don’t put up a Christmas tree or a lot of decorations in their homes. Most of the decorations are just in malls and other public places. Even though Christians are a minority in Indonesia, most will still have the day off as Indonesia recognizes the major holidays for all the 6 main religions in the country.
Selamat Natal! (Merry Christmas!)
It is very common to give your best wishes to friends & family who are celebrating a holiday of their religion. Often the greeting starts or ends with “bagi yang merayakan” which means, “for those celebrating.” People send text messages and/or send cards with gifts (usually a gift basket of cookies) to friends and relatives. These gift baskets of cookies and snacks are more common to see than gifts under the tree.
In Indonesia, many Christmas dishes have Dutch origins (Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch for 347 years!) These include cookies! The popular types of Christmas cookies are:
- Kastengel – cheese cookies
- Nastar- a butter cookie with pineapple jam filling
- Putri Salju, or “snow white” – a butter cookie covered with powdered sugar and cheese
- Pofferties- Dutch Pancakes
Pray for Indonesian Christians as they celebrate Christmas this year. Ask God to draw them into a deeper relationship with Him as they celebrate the birth of our Savior. Pray that they would be lights to their Muslim families and friends during this season.