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10 Interesting and Happy Christmas Traditions in Indonesia

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The Christmas tradition in Indonesia is also one of the important moments for Christians in the archipelago. Christmas Day is certainly greeted with joy by all Christians and not infrequently various unique traditions are also carried out in various places to enliven the Christmas moment. In Indonesia, there are several places that have unique and interesting traditions in welcoming Christmas. Combined with each culture in each region makes Christmas celebrations feel even more festive. Well, here is a Christmas tradition in Indonesia which is quite unique and interesting.

1. Wayang Kulit, Yogyakarta

Shadow Puppets

The first Christmas tradition in Indonesia that is known to be quite unique is the wayang kulit tradition. This tradition is usually carried out by the people of Yogyakarta, which is known for its thick culture.

In this wayang kulit event, a Pastor or Pastor will lead the worship in the church using the smooth Javanese language complete with Yogyakarta clothes, such as blangkon and beskap. Not only that, Christmas in Yogyakarta is also filled with visiting relatives or neighbors to stay in touch.

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2. Rabo-Rabo, Jakarta


As the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta is certainly one of the best cities to celebrate Christmas. Christmas traditions in Indonesia are indeed quite diverse and the Christmas tradition in Jakarta is known as Rabo-Rabo.

Rabo-Rabo is a tradition of visiting other residents at Christmas which is usually done by the Portuguese. This tradition is indeed a bit similar to halal bihalal during Eid, but the difference lies in the accompaniment of music and dance that is done together and every resident who is visited must dance with the group and continue to visit other residents from house to house.

3. Penjor, Bali


You can find the next quite interesting Christmas tradition in Indonesia in Bali. Although the majority of the population of Bali is Hindu, the Christmas celebration here is also quite lively.

Christmas celebrations on the Island of the Gods are almost similar to Galungan celebrations for Hindus. When Christmas arrives, every church on the island of Bali will be decorated with beautiful bamboo and coconut leaves. This tradition is known as Penjor. Penjor is a decoration of coconut leaves on bamboo sticks that complements traditional ceremonies and Balinese religion. At Christmas, Christians in Bali also wear traditional kebaya, shawl and black or white kamen cloth.

4. Lovely December, Toraja

Lovely December

Toraja also has one of the most festive Christmas traditions in Indonesia called Lovely December. This celebration begins in December the 1st of December.

Before Christmas, the Toraja local government will hold a cultural and tourism festival known as Lovely December. The culmination of this Lovely December event is held on December 26 and is usually celebrated with a ceremonial procession known as the Lettoan. If you spend the Christmas holiday in Toraja, don’t miss the variety of events that pamper tourists such as carnivals, traditional ceremonies, art performances, art exhibitions to culinary delights.

5. Bells and Sirens, Ambon

Bells and Sirens

You can find the next Christmas tradition in Indonesia that is no less exciting, you can find in Ambon. This Christmas commemoration in Ambon is commemorated by ringing bells in churches and sirens at the same time which is usually done on Christmas Eve.

The Christmas festivities in Ambon were also enlivened by the presence of a variety of typical Christmas decorations, such as Christmas trees installed in homes to shops. Not only that, the tradition of Santa visiting houses is also carried out in Ambon.

6. Bamboo Cannon, Flores

Bamboo Cannon

The Bamboo Cannon is one of the Christmas traditions in Indonesia carried out by the people of Flores. The Bamboo Cannon tradition has become a tradition carried out by children at Christmas.

This Bamboo Cannon is made from kitchen ashes and kerosene which is inserted into a bamboo stick that has been carved neatly. The way to sound this cannon is to put the fire in a small hole on the side of the bamboo section. This bamboo cannon boom has become a custom to celebrate Christmas as an expression of joy over the birth of Jesus Christ.

7. Van Vare, Larantuka

Van Vare

The next Christmas tradition in Indonesia that you should not miss is in Larantuka, East Flores. In commemoration of Christmas, there was a musical performance from the orchestra and the choir from the Larantuka Diocese known as Van Vare.

The Van Vare tradition is a form of awakening people from the habit of committing sins. They will be reminded again through music, songs and poetry to return to the right path and return to being holy on Christmas Day.

8. Marbinda, North Sumatra


In North Sumatra, there is a tradition known as Marbinda and it is one of the unique Christmas traditions in Indonesia. This Marbinda tradition is almost similar to the celebration of Eid al-Adha for Muslims, namely by sacrificing a number of animals.

Interestingly, the animals that will be sacrificed are the result of community contributions made before the Christmas celebration. The animal that will be sacrificed also depends on the amount of funds collected. If the funds collected are quite large, usually the people will sacrifice the buffalo. However, if the funds collected are not too much, usually people will sacrifice pigs. The proceeds from the slaughter of these sacrificial animals will then be distributed to each participating citizen.

9. Key of the Year, Manado

Year Key

Key Taon is one of the Christmas traditions in Indonesia which is celebrated by the people of Manado. If Christmas is usually celebrated on December 25 every year, the people of Manado celebrate Christmas since December 1. Since that date, Manado residents will celebrate various pre-Christmas events until the peak on December 25.

Not only until December 25, after the peak of the Christmas event, residents will visit the family cemetery and clean the burial area and decorate the surrounding area with fresh flowers. This tradition lasts until the new year.

The event is not only finished until the new year because it still continues until the first week in January. During the week the people of Manado will hold Taon Kunci, which is a parade tradition by walking around the village wearing unique costumes that entertain the audience.

10. Barapen, Papua

Christmas Traditions in Indonesia

The last Christmas tradition in Indonesia is Barapen. Barapen is a tradition of burning stones in Papua.

Stones will be burned with fire and not using matches, but by rubbing wood to produce heat. While waiting for the fire to start, there is a division of tasks, namely the women are asked to prepare leaves such as cassava, spinach, papaya to ferns. Meanwhile, the men were given the task of making tubing to insert hot stones that had been lit. The smoldering stone is used as a place to cook vegetables and pork. This casual food event is one of the traditions to commemorate the birth of the Savior.

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