Bali Life / Events

How Indonesians celebrate the holiday season

When it comes to the holiday season, Indonesians love to celebrate Christmas and New Year as festive as they can, regardless of their beliefs. So if you decide to spend the end of year holiday in Bali or elsewhere in Indonesia, you might want to find out some of the unique traditions on how Indonesians like to spend it.


Family gathering

Indonesians are known to having a close-knit family system, which is why it is unusual for families to gather every now and then. And especially during Christmas and New Year’s Eve, those who celebrate will usually visit their relatives’ homes for Christmas lunch or dinner, and for NYE countdown. 

Pohon Natal and Sinterklas

Influenced by the West, especially the Dutch, Indonesia also adopts the Pohon Natal (Christmas tree) and Santa Claus tradition. In Bahasa Indonesia, Santa Claus is usually referred to as Sinterklas – taken from its Dutch word of Sinterklaas. In big cities like Jakarta, you will easily find Sinterklas in big malls.

There was also a visit from Santa Claus on Christmas day at Padma Resort Legian during its Christmas Carol and Santa Day event.  

For New Year’s, you may expect huge fireworks going on across cities in Indonesia. And if you’re celebrating in Bali, you may enjoy the fireworks from the iconic Kuta Beach. Or, if you happen to be celebrating with us, have a look at our exciting New Year’s specials

Holiday cookies

Another Dutch influence is holiday treats that are commonly sold and enjoyed by many during this festive season. Kastengels, or Kaastengels in its Dutch word, is a savoury cheese-based cookie that is almost similar to a cheese stick. While Nastar is a sweet cookie with chewy pineapple on the inside. The word Nastar derives from two Dutch words of ananas and taart.

In addition to Christmas and New Year, the treats are also widely enjoyed during the Muslim’s holy Eid day. 

Photo courtesy: Nina Noor & Bangka Tribune News

Traditional celebration
While the capital city, Jakarta, is influenced by the West when it comes to celebrating Christmas and New Year, other cities will incorporate their own tradition in celebrating the holidays.

An example would be a performance of birth of Christ through Wayang Kulit or Shadow Puppet in Yogyakarta during Christmas time, and you may also enjoy this Wayang Kulit performance in Yogyakarta’s Alun Alun or townhall during New Year’s Eve.

And those who celebrate in Bali would usually go to the church on Christmas day using traditional Balinese clothes. And if you head to Makassar, Sulawesi, you’ll get to count down to the New Year with a beachside celebration that will include night market and stalls, live entertainment of Indonesia’s very own dangdut music. 

Gift exchange
Lastly, we Indonesians love to do gift exchange during Christmas time, with families and friends. The Western tradition of Secret Santa has also become a growing trend among young people.

And even if Christmas had passed, it’s no reason to spoil your loved ones with some end-of-year presents. Find some holiday gift inspirations below, as picked by our Sarasvati Design Store team.  

Pretty sandals
These stylish yet comfortable sandals from Anmako and Shoe Shack Bali will make the perfect gift for ’tis holiday season.

Classic socks
Keep it classic and warm with these stylish Doormind socks!

Colourful animals
Fimo is a craft brand created by American artist, Jon Anderson. This unique animal decoration is made of polymer clay, with Moorish motifs, Native American spirits, ancient petroglyphs, Celtic themes and more. Perfect to add the festive feel into any home.

Padma merchandise
Take home a tiny piece of Padma home, from recycled glass bottle turned to beer glass, leather holders (that can keep either your key, cards, or passport), mugs to t-shirts. It’s the perfect gift for any Padma-holic too! 

Festive ornaments
Handmade locally
in Tegalalang, Ubud, each of these Bola Kerang decoration (or translates as seashell ball) are made from various abandoned seashells. Add a string to the piece, voila, you’ll have a unique ornament to hang on your doors, windows or what have you.

Exotic Ikat
Take a piece of traditional Indonesian gift of ikat, traditional textile from Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara. Not only you can purchase, but you can admire this exotic textile up close and personal at “Whispers On The Grasslands” exhibition at Sarasvati Design Store, running until 15 February 2019.

Wishing everyone a good and safe holiday season from Padma Resort Legian team! 

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