ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Holidays and Celebrations»
  • Christmas

Christmas in Indonesia

Updated on July 9, 2011


Christmas or Natal in my language is the day when Jesus Christ was born. For me, Christ is not just a Wise-man, a Phrophet, Guru, a Healer, a Good Guy, etc For me, Christ is The Lord God, my private Messiah, my God, my Salvation, my Friend, and He is no longer a baby..He is a King of kings.

Christmas has been celebrating in Indonesia for hundred of years since the arrival of the Portuguese and the Dutch to occupy Indonesia. They spread the Christianity in Indonesia, most of it in Eastern Indonesia like East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, North Sulawesi, and Papua. Celebrating Chrismas in Indonesia is different from other western countries, especially for me who live in West Java. First, there is no snow here, but it's okay, Christmas is not identic with snow anyway. Second, this is Indonesia, where the major religion is Moslem, so you will rarely find Christian' houses decorated with Christmas ornaments. Well, if you go to our malls and department stores you will find many Chrismas 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.

Christmas in Ambon, Maluku

Well, Christmas in Ambon, Maluku-Indonesia is fantastic. Maybe the most fantastic in my country. Usually, the Ambon people have prepared the celebration on November, the malls and stores have decorated with Christmas ornaments, O Holy Night is heard everywhere. Churches are very busy, they prepare Christmas drama, songs, dances, and Sunday School Children prepare the choir. They prepare the Christmas celebration from December 01 to the end of the month.

On Dec 01 to 06 : Santa Claus visits each house and give present to children. I don't know about Santa Claus much but I like the spirit of giving. Especially for the less-fortunate people.

On Christmas Eve, Ambon people will gather in their Church (about 6 pm) and pray for the Christmas Day. On 10 pm to midnight the Ambon town will usually very quite and dark, why..? Because all the Ambon people will pray in their house with their family until 00.00 am and after that, the dark and quite town become so bright, crowded, and noisy with fire works all over the town ha..ha. They will greet one another 'Merry Christmas' and send messages to relatives until 9 am in Dec 25 when they prepare the Christmas prayer and celebration in their Church. And the ceremony will continue to their house, they will have special Christmas feast and gather with the family and friends. So much different with the Christmas in Java Island (where I live).

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ambon Women Choir on Christmas celebrationAmbon Woman and her son on the way to the church during Ambon's riot (1999)
Ambon Women Choir on Christmas celebration
Ambon Women Choir on Christmas celebration
Ambon Woman and her son on the way to the church during Ambon's riot (1999)
Ambon Woman and her son on the way to the church during Ambon's riot (1999)

Christmas in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

More or less is similar with Christmas celebration in Ambon unless with the fire-works. My fafther in law live in Kupang, every Christmas we usually gather in his house on Christmas Eve to pray together until midnight. My father in law usually pray for us (his children, children in law, granchildren). After the praying session, we greet our neighbors and have feast and hang out together. On Dec 25, we go to the church for Christmas celebration and do the similar things like Ambon people.

The dishes

We usually prepare a pork-grilled, jagung bose (corn cooked with spicy herbs and coconut milk), pork satay (like pork barbecue, but the pork is cut in dice and stick to the bamboo), brenebon soup (red bean soup with garlic and ribs), cakes, cookies, and sodas

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Brenebon Soup Jagung BoseSate Babi or Pork Satay
Brenebon Soup
Brenebon Soup
Jagung Bose
Jagung Bose
Sate Babi or Pork Satay
Sate Babi or Pork Satay

Christmas in Java

I live in West Java and the celebrations of Christmas are concentrated in churches. It's okay for me and we still have our Christmas prayer in our own house. As a matter of fact, the Indonesian Christian had suffered a terrible Christmas Eve 9 years ago. Many churches had been attacked by bomb on Dec 24, 2000. Here are the lists of Churches which had been attacked :

 Batam (Sumatra)

1. Gereja Katolik Beato Damian, Bengkong (Beato Damian Catholic Church in Bengkong)

2. Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun (GKPS) Sungai Panas (Simalungun Protest Christian Chuch in Sungai Panas)

3. Gereja Bethany Lantai II Gedung My Mart Batam Center (Bethany Church in My Mart Batam Centre)

4. Gereja Pantekosta di Indonesia Pelita, Jalan Teuku Umar (Pelita Pentecost Church in Teuku Umar Street)

Pekanbaru (Sumatra)

1. Gereja HKBP Pekanbaru di Jalan Hang Tuah (HKBP Church in Hang Tuah Street )

2. Gereja di Jalan Sidomulyo (Church in Sidomulyo Street)

Jakarta (Capitol City)

1. Gereja Katedral (The Cathedral)

2. Sekolah Kanisius Menteng Raya (Kanisius School in Menteng Raya)

3. Gereja Matraman (Matraman Church)

4. Gereja Koinonia Jatinegara (Koinonia Church in Jatinegara)

5. Gereja Oikumene Halim (Oikumene Church in Halim)

Sukabumi (West Java)

1. Gereja Pantekosta Sidang Kristus di Jalan Masjid 20 Alun Alun Utara (Assembly of God Pentecost Church in Alun-Alun Utara)

2. Gereja di Jalan Otto Iskandardinata (Church in Otto Iskandardinata Street)

Pangandaran (West Java)

1. Gereja di Jalan Otto Iskandardinata, Sukabumi, Pangandaran, Ciamis (Church in Otto Iskandardinata Street)

Bandung (West Java)

1. Pertokoan Cicadas (Cicadas Stores Area)

2. Jalan Terusan Jakarta 43 (Church in Terusan Jakarta Street)

Kudus (Central Java)

1. Gereja Santo Yohanes Evangelista di Jalan Sunan Muria 6 (St John Evangelista Church in Sunan Muria 6 Street)

Mojokerto (East Java)

1. Gereja Allah Baik di Jalan Tjokroaminoto (Good Lord Church in Tjokroaminoto Street)

2. Gereja Santo Yosef di Jalan Pemuda (St Joseph Church in Pemuda Street)

3. Gereja Bethany (Bethany Church)

4. Gereja Ebenezer di Jalan Kartini (Ebenezer Church in Kartini Street)

Mataram (West Nusa Tenggara)

1. Gereja Protestan Indonesia Barat Imanuel di Jalan Bung Karno (Imanuel West Indonesia Protest Church in Bung Karno Street)

2. Gereja Betlehem Pantekosta Pusat Surabaya (GBPPS)

3. Pekuburan Kristen Kapitan Ampenan (Christian Cemetery in Kapitan Ampenan). I still wondering why they attacted the cemetery ?

Source : Indonesian Republic Police Headquarter and wikipedia

Not intend to open an old wound but just a reminder that Christmas in Indonesia is not always merry and bright. I personally have forgiven the bombers who had been catched and sent to a death penalty (most of them). And the condition is getting better now, I believe it's not about religion but the bombers just loved to spread the terror. Specially in places or something that have connection with west world like Christianity, Church and Christmas.

Those bombings also made us (the Body of Christ) in Indonesia changed. I have to admit that many Christian in Indonesia live in exclusiveness and not really care with people around us, so the attacked had changed the way we live. We're more open now, many churches open their doors and give what people need like medications, meals, educations, and our hearts. Hei, the last part of my hub is not intend to make you gloomy :)

It's Christmas time, Christ was born and He is the Best Present to the world. So..Happy Birthday Jesus! And Merry Christmas to you!

Christmas Celebration in My Church

Click thumbnail to view full-size
City Transform Christmas Celebration in BandungRuth Sahanaya in City Transform Christmas Celebration in BandungPastor Daniel Arief S delivered the Christmas message
City Transform Christmas Celebration in Bandung
City Transform Christmas Celebration in Bandung
Ruth Sahanaya in City Transform Christmas Celebration in Bandung
Ruth Sahanaya in City Transform Christmas Celebration in Bandung
Pastor Daniel Arief S delivered the Christmas message
Pastor Daniel Arief S delivered the Christmas message
The candlelight service on 2008 Christmas in my church - Bandung
The candlelight service on 2008 Christmas in my church - Bandung

Perayaan Natal Sekolah Minggu wil.Tomohon 1, di GMIM Elim Kolongan, Tomohon (The Sunday School Christmas Celebration in Tomohon, North Sulawesi)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Lizzie 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing about Christmas in Indonesia! It sounds like a lovely celebration. I really enjoyed reading about it :)

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 7 years ago from Indonesia

      @eculligan, thank you and I love your hub. Have a wonderful Christmas this year.

    • eculligan profile image

      eculligan 7 years ago

      Very nice hub. Food looks very good. If your interested in Christmas ideas for your home please visit my hub

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 7 years ago from Indonesia

      Hi Carma, we sing a usual Christmas Carol like Silent night, Jingle Bell, O Holy Night, etc. Sometime we sing them in English, but most of the time we sing the Indonesian version of Christmas Carols. We also sing praise and worship songs, we have thousands of Christian songs in our language.

    • profile image

      carma sintina 7 years ago

      I need to know what types of songs that they sing at Christmas time in Indonesia

    • profile image

      Mamat 8 years ago

      Hi, Im Indonesian and I didn't know christmas in Indonesia could be so cool!

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 8 years ago from Indonesia

      Prasetio, it's glad to see you here :) You're right, The Passion of Christ is my favorite too! Thank you for your wishes and Happy New Year to you too!

      Have a wonderful holiday!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      As a Muslim I also appreciate another religion like Christian. I watch "Passion of Christ"movie twice. I also interested with anything about Christmas. Like the Christmas movie. I just looking this is as an art. The great movie for Christmas is "Miracle on 34th Street". It told about the Miracle on Christmas day. I want to say early for you "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year".

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 8 years ago from Indonesia

      Great to see you Anginwu, For us, Christmas is about Jesus and all the preparations we do are to worship, praise, and build relationship with Him. The festivities and presents are just additional. Have a wonderful Christmas to you too!

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 8 years ago

      It's heartening to know that Christmas is celebrated in Indonesia, and in some instances, more meaningful and elaborate than what we have in the western world. Our focus is more on presents and festivities. By the way you describe Christmas in Indonesia--they place a lot of emphasis on going to church and prayer, which is definitely befitting the occasion.

      Thanks for sharing and I'm glad Christ is celebrated in such a Muslim-concentrated country. Have a Merry Christmas!

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 8 years ago from Indonesia

      chenmikehk, thank you for visiting and Selamat Hari natal to you too!

      Nemingha, thank you, I hope the same too!

    • Nemingha profile image

      Nemingha 8 years ago

      This was an interesting and very lovely read. I hope you have a very happy Christmas again this year.

    • chenmikehk profile image

      chenmikehk 8 years ago from North Borneo, Malaysia

      Good to read about churches in Indon from a Indon. Selamat Hari Natal!

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 8 years ago from Indonesia

      Joy At Home,

      Of course you can join me in my church for Christmas, I'll wait for you :)

      Yes, those dances are common in Christmas celebration, if you visit my daughter at her Sunday School Christmas you will experience more, not just dances but also drama, puppet show, etc

      Christmas celebration is fun here, thank you for your nice comment.

    • Joy At Home profile image

      Joy At Home 8 years ago from United States

      I would like some day to join you in your church for a Christmas service, and experience the holiday as you know it.

      Are Christmas dances, such as shown in the videos, very common? Mostly, churches where I live (in Colorado, U.S.) don't do anything beyond a skit or pageant, because dances and such take so much time to practice. Also, some churches still consider dancing a religious taboo.

      Thanks for your beautiful hub.