This article is dedicated to different ways of celebrating Christmas in Indonesia in different areas of this multicultural country and it will be a delightful guide through the variety of amazing ways to celebrate a wonderful Christmas in this part of the world. So, let’s see how December, 25th, looks in Indonesia!
Christmas in Papua
If you have ever celebrated Christmas in Papua, then you certainly know that the obligatory (and probably the most amusing) part of the celebration is Barapen. Barapen is the activity named after the grilling stone that is used for the ritual cooking of pork for the celebration.
This ritual is usually held after the special Christmas mass when people come from church. The point of this activity is to prepare the meat by cooking it using the hot stones. The act of preparing pork this way and eating it together represents the unity of people during the holidays, their gratitude and caring. The stones that are used during the process are supposed to be heated by scraping the wood intensively and making the fire that way. Even though the men of Papua have the more important role in this ritual (the process of cooking meat), women also have their duties that consist of preparing additional food that should also be cooked with meat.
Usually, the meat is combined with papaya, sweet potato, fern, cassava, and spinach. Once the stones are positioned in the hole pork and vegetables should be placed on it, and after that, the rest of the hot stones should be placed above the food. Preparation process usually lasts for half a day.
Christmas in Ambon
Christmas rituals in the area of Ambon consist of some more religious acts when compared to the way of celebrating it in Papua. One of the most important parts of Christmas in Ambon is the ritual named “the nation cleaning” (cuci negeri), which is supposed to provide liberation of sins and purification of both habitants of Ambon and the environment they live in.
The first part of the ritual is performed in the community function hall and all of the people of Ambon should come since every clan has to perform its own unique ritual, afterwards, they should go to the traditional function hall. The most important thing is the atmosphere during this walk from one hall to another – people are singing, dancing and playing traditional music instrument called tifa. During their walk, women should be carrying offerings, usually raw food such as areca nut and betel. They may also bring sopi, which represents the traditional drink of this area.
Another ritual, maybe not as common as “the nation cleaning” in Ambon, but practiced in the area of Maluku islands (which is the area where the island of Ambon lies) is the tradition of turning on the ship sirens and church bells at the same time during the Christmas Eve.
Christmas in Yogyakarta
During Christmas, people of Yogyakarta use to visit their neighbors, friends and cousins and there is a tradition of giving money to the children. These gifts are usually given by grandparents.
One of the most interesting Christmas traditions in Yogyakarta are definitely the shadow puppets performances characteristic for this area of Indonesia as a spectacular indigenous part of the culture. These puppets are made of leather combined with buffalo horn handles and they are controlled by rods. During the Christmas celebration, there is a special wayang kulit performance that represents the birth of Jesus Christ.
Some other interesting traditional activities during the holidays are the Christmas church mass that is held using the local language. The priest wears a traditional Javanese costume that consists of beskap and blankon.