Celebrating Christmas In the Largest Muslim Country In The World

Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. But not that many people know that it officially recognizes 6 religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestanism, Confucianism, and of course Islam.

One of the more elaborate Christmas decorations we've come across

With Catholics and Christians making up about 10% of the total population, Christmas in Indonesia is always a more subdued experience. Simply because… well, those who celebrate Christmas only make up a small percentage of the whole population.

Some malls would put up Christmas trees.

Some employees (usually working for stores/hotels that are part of an international chain) would wear Santa hats.

This bakery didn't have any Xmas decorations but had the time to print out Christmas themed packaging

People don’t talk about how they’re almost done with their Christmas shopping (or how far behind they are).

Store employees don’t yell out , ‘Happy holidays!’ or ‘Merry Christmas!’ as you leave.

Not to mention the hot, tropical, soooo un-Christmas like weather.

My family’s not big on Christmas. No family gatherings planned. No Christmas dinner menu hashed out. So it’s even harder to notice that Christmas is just around the corner.

One big difference I noticed is that Christmas here is truly a religious holiday. Those who care about Christmas enough to buy presents and put up Christmas trees in their houses will most likely attend Christmas mass.

And thanks to years of upbringing in a Catholic school, to a lot of my old school friends the idea of NOT going to mass on Christmas day is unthinkable.

Even if it’s the only time of the year they find themselves inside a church.


I’m sure in pockets of Christian community there’s more of the Christmas spirit in the air. As a matter of fact, the hotel that we stayed in in Jogjakarta played Christmas songs in the hallways. So, that was nice. But it was more an exception than the rule. Traveling in Jakarta and along Java, it had been easy to forget that Christmas was only a couple of days away.

It almost makes me wish for a much more commercialized Christmas we’re used to in California.

Almost.

How we’ll be spending Christmas day

We’ll be spending Christmas driving back from Cirebon to Jakarta. It’s going to be a long drive. So, that kinda sucks, but at least I’ll be spending it my family which is something I don’t get to do very often. And because of that, despite the not-quite Christmas atmosphere, despite being on the road on Christmas day and all that, this year’s Christmas is a special one for me. 🙂

Here Wishing Ya’ll and Your Loved Ones A Merry Christmas, whether you’re having a white or a tropical one!

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9 Replies to “Celebrating Christmas In the Largest Muslim Country In The World”

  1. All my friends say that Christmas in the western world has become so commercialised and people even forget why they celebrate it in the first place. People who have throughout the year, maintained that religion is the root of all evil then stick Santa hats on and put up great big trees. Not experienced a western christmas for nine years now, and not missing it.

    1. Not that it's not commercialized in Indonesia, but definitely to a much lesser degree. One of the international malls put up a giant, lavish tree and it was criticized widely as being too extravagant and not really in the spirit of Christmas.

  2. Merry Christmas! We spent Christmas in Thailand, and I really enjoyed getting away from all the shopping stress, although I did miss the yummy Christmas sweets… 😉

  3. Merry Christmas! We spent Christmas in Thailand, and I really enjoyed getting away from all the shopping stress, although I did miss the yummy Christmas sweets… 😉

  4. Merry Christmas to you guys! Next year we will get our own experience of Christmas in Indonesia. It sounds like it will be much different than what we are used to and honestly I think that is a good thing. Enjoy your celebrations!

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