Christmas in Indonesian

We have international students at the IUBH coming from over 110 different countries. As we approach Christmas, we asked some students about Christmas traditions from their countries of origin.

In Indonesia, we don’t really celebrate Advent or St. Nicholas Day because Christians are a minority of only 5 to 10 percent. However, we do celebrate Christmas. It is called “Hari Natal” in our language.


Iratania (on the right) with family and friends

My family celebrates Christmas as well as important Muslim holidays. As done in Germany, we celebrate Christmas from the evening of December 24th to December 26th. On the evening of the 24th or the next morning, people go to church. On the first day of Christmas there is a shared dinner where the whole family gets together, eats together, watches movies and exchanges presents. My family eats mostly traditional Indonesian food like chicken satay or fried noodles. Other traditional foods include turkey, ribs, pork belly, ginger biscuits, chicken soup, rice and wine. I always look forward to seeing the whole family, exchanging gifts and eating turkey and ginger biscuits.

In many families, it is common for married family members to give money to siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces who are under 30 and unmarried. However, that is not the case everywhere. Many families also take a holiday together, usually directly after Christmas and until New Years.

Unlike in European countries, and in particular as in Germany, we do not have Christmas markets in Indonesia. Nevertheless, there are Christmas decorations everywhere, for example in shopping malls, office buildings and along major streets.

Last year I spent Christmas in Germany and it was great fun. I celebrated with a friend and his family. He is from Poland so I learned a lot about Polish Christmas traditions. With other friends, we went to many Christmas markets to drink mulled wine and eat sweets. Not only in Germany. We also went to Prague and Budapest to experience their Christmas traditions.

Iratania is 26 years old and studying MBA at IUBH Campus Studies. Her hobbies are diving and travelling.

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