Christmas is always a highly anticipated holiday across most of the world.
It’s a time of giving, sharing, forgetting the past, and gathering with loved ones. It’s also the time to be with our families. You may be confused about where to go this Christmas; Paris, London, New York – nah! This time around, let’s check out Indonesia.
You may wonder: why Indonesia, since it is predominantly an Islamic country? There is, however, a large Christian population, specifically a lot of Catholics, among the other religions that stand together behind the nation’s official motto, Unity in Diversity. Everybody mingles, honours, and respects one another and their culture, beliefs, and festivals. Here are eleven ideas for how you can spend your Christmas in Indonesia this year.
Yogyakarta is the Place for Art Lovers
Every religious ceremony in this city is celebrated with local twists. The priests of the churches lead the masses and speak during the service using Javanese and/or English, while wearing traditional Javanese attire – the blangkon and the beskap. A shadow puppet show which depicts the birth of Christ, and many more traditional puppet shows, are normally showcased.
Shop till You Drop in Manado
Christmas is highly anticipated by the residents of Manado. Over here, around 80 percent of the population is Christian, and the city has a unique touch and atmosphere as Christmas approaches. Early on from September and October, full-form celebrations begin, and this excites the people of Manado. If you love shopping, then it would be wise to check out Manado in November as Christmas ornaments are displayed and sold everywhere, even Christmas songs are played early. There is the famous Christmas festival with exciting shows that you shouldn’t miss. You may just happen to meet the real Santa Claus here, who knows?
Mingle with the Locals of North Toraja While They Perform Traditional Celebrations
If you want to experience true Christmas celebrations in Indonesia, head to North Toraja, South Sulawesi, where the amazing Lovely December annual event happens. This is a time when you can see many cultural and tourist related festivities. The famous Biasnaya Festival opens with the slaughtering of a buffalo, as well as the famous Lettoan procession of pigs being paraded as a symbol of the human life in three dimensions. By holidaying here, you won’t only enjoy the Christmas traditions, but you’ll also gain knowledge about the locals’ ways to celebrate Christmas.
Enjoy the Flower Parades in Tomohon
When you come to Tomohon, you may notice that the city is very famous for its flower parades, the cool crisp air, and the beautiful mountains. The famous Lake Sineleyan is where the locals flock to, checking out the various Christmas ornaments and colourful lights that get set up.
Enjoy the Spectacular Fireworks in Ambon
If you love fireworks, the Christmas week down in Ambon will keep you happy. It is a spectacular scene, especially on Christmas Eve where fireworks are in full bloom and absolutely stunning. Hundreds of Santa Clauses are also seen visiting every home to bring gifts to children. Ambon is also famous as a family vacation spot, so you can travel there with your family while enjoying the year end festivities.
EAST NUSA TENGGARA
Check Out the Wonders of Larantuka
Also known as the Vatican of Indonesia, this is a must-visit place during Christmas. It will provide you with an experience that will be etched in your mind long after your flight departs. Experience a plethora of Christmas traditions here, including a pilgrimage. Visit the Mater Dolorosa, or Mother of Sorrow statue, which is set up on a mountain. Check out the beauty of Larantuka’s mountains, beaches, and oceans. Take a boat ride to the next island, Adonara Island, where you can see the ferry port.
Surround Yourself in the Sights and Sounds of Bamboo Lamps across Ruteng
This city is also nicknamed the City of a Thousand Churches, and surely you will feel the spirit of Christmas here; joyful and lively. Catholics across this area have their own traditions for celebrating Christmas. Houses are lit with lamps made from bamboo and fuelled by kerosene. At the Church of Saint Theresa of Jesus, you’ll see around one hundred bamboo lamps installed. Imagine how beautiful it is after knowing the gate spans around 200 metres.
Take Part in the Food Celebrations
Though Bali is predominantly a Hindu island, there are stunning Christmas celebrations seen here. Just prior to the night of Christmas, you will see the churches around Bali decked out in penjor decorations. There is also the tradition of ngejot, a celebration where food is shared in Balinese society. This is when Christians cook Balinese specialties and then share them with their Hindu friends and neighbours.
Splurge for Gifts
Christmas shopping in Bali is fun, and not boring to say the least. There are plenty of malls and local shopping markets catering to both big spenders and budget shoppers, selling something unique and special for everyone.
Pamper Yourself over Christmas
Some self-pampering is a must, since you are on vacation. There are many retreats in Indonesia, especially in Bali, where you and your family can spend some time to relax your body, mind, and soul. Rejuvenate yourself whilst you travel around this beautiful place, and perhaps join a yoga retreat whilst you’re at it. There are many wellness centres that have amazing offers for you to choose from, especially during this time of the year.
Party the Night Away
If you are a party-goer, Bali is the right place for you to ring in the spirit of Christmas and New Year. There are awesome parties thrown across Bali throughout this season, and Bali is known to be a party animal’s paradise.
To Conclude… While you plan your Christmas holiday with family and friends, don’t forget that Indonesia has plenty of attractions that you can choose to immerse yourself in. You don’t have to spend a bomb, since there are many ways to travel Indonesia on a budget. And don’t forget to pamper yourself; there are yoga retreats in Indonesia that have various offers that will help rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.