Leisure & Tourism

Unique Christmas Traditions in Indonesia

The majority of people in Indonesia might be Moslem, but there are many unique Christmas traditions to welcome and celebrate Christmas across the archipelago. Here are some examples.


Don’t expect pine trees, reindeer, or snow. During Christmas, most churches in Bali are decorated with bamboo poles and coconuts—a more fitting, typical Balinese ornaments. Although, as a big melting pot, you can still find indeed pine trees, reindeer, and snow— artificial ones of course, in some corners of Legian or Seminyak.

North Sumatra

The Batak people (North Sumatran) celebrates Christmas by having a Marbinda—a tradition of sacrificing a buffalo, ox, or pig to be divided among the family. Usually it’s involving 35 to 40 people per Marbinda.

South Sulawesi

On December, Toraja people of South Sulawesi will do Lettoan—a pig parading contest (yes, parading pig) as a thanksgiving and to symbolize the togetherness of the people. It’s usually a part of ‘Lovely December’—a ceremonial event held by South Sulawesi government.

Central Java

Santa is a rare sight here. Instead you are more likely to find people celebrating Christmas wearing traditional Javanese clothes such as beskap, blangkon, or kebaya. They also have Wayang Wahyu—a unique puppet performance telling stories straight from the bible.


On any ordinary day, Flores can be calm and quite island. On holiday? The Floresian prefer a loud celebration. During Christmas Eve they ringing any noise they can make: boat sirens, Christmas bells, bamboo cannons, and celebrate Christmas together with family. It sure is loud.

Bali Pocket Magazine