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Christmas in Indonesia

mini-santa-claus.jpgThe year has gone fast and the time is nearly upon us when [in western countries] Santa Claus gets a hernia trying to get down a chimney to deliver presents, his reindeer rebel for better pay, and in certain parts of the globe snow is falling. That’s right, I’m talking about Christmas. This is a time of good cheer, attending parties and in general, enjoying yourself to the max. After a slow recovery, it’s then headlong into New Years Eve celebrations. But, what is Christmas like in a predominately Muslim Indonesia.

Naturally on the main tourist islands, hotels cater for western tourists by erecting Xmas Trees ornately decorated, and some have functions for Xmas dinners. ‘Merry Christmas’ signs appear suddenly. Shopping hours seem to be extended and the seasonal specials seemingly jump out of nowhere. The biggest signs of Christmas are in the malls where the tradition of the Western festive season can be seen. Most of the major stores in the larger cities have huge Xmas trees and restaurants tend to put on some manner of Xmas fare.

In the Christian communities around the archipelago much the same is done with festivities. In Yogyakarta, there is always a big Xmas tree in the Malioboro Mall and the ubiquitous Indonesian man dressed in a Santa Claus suit sporting a white beard and giving out small presents. It’s the same in Jakarta and the others. All the major department stores join in on the festive season.

But, it is on the streets where Xmas comes into vogue. It is warming to see Christians and Muslims participating together to enjoy Christmas in harmony. In Bali and on the island of Lombok you will find the major hotels putting on some kind of celebration. I have had many Xmas’s in Yogyakarta and for me that is the place to be.