Christmas is fast approaching, and Indonesians everywhere are getting for mudik (homecoming). Our very own Indonesian monkey asked his friends what they missed most from Christmas celebrations back home, in lieu of the jolly holiday spirit.
Words: Ari Fajar
Being a country with the largest population of Muslims in the world, it’s no wonder that it’s a huge part of our identity. However, our motherland is also a secular country, a melting pot of many religions and cultures. Did you know that the number of non-Muslims in Indonesia is larger than the whole population of Malaysia altogether? Big on festivals no matter what religion we are, Indonesia is still a brilliant place to be especially at the end of the year, where the festive Christmas lights illuminate the bustling city everywhere you turn! Many of my friends were not able to return home this Christmas, but we will always remember the lights, carols and the joy in December!
“I miss our family’s Christmas dinner. My mom makes the best bruine bonensoep (Dutch-style brown bean soup)! My dad always asks his children to help him prepare the cakalang fufu (Manado-style smoked skipjack tuna), and at the end of the day, we have to shower to get rid of the smoey smell from our body. For dessert, we usually have klappertaart (Dutch-Indonesian coconut cake) which is a specialty of my hometown, Manado. I used to hate sharing the cake with my siblings because it’s my favourite one of all, but Mom used to slip me an extra slice as I was the youngest. My siblings were not very pleased when they found out years later about my added bonus, but how I miss those times!”
Yohanes Ingkiriwang, NGO Worker, Kenya
“I am going to be so miserable this year because I am going to miss my grandma so much! My parents’ home is in Makassar, but my grandparents’ house is far away in Rantepao where our Torajan culture is still very much alive. My grandparents still live in a tongkonan (traditional house of the Torajans), and its unique shape somehow always reminds me of Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we always have pa’piong bai (pork cooked in bamboo) and pantollo pamarrasan (snakehead fish soup). I am my grandma’s favourite grandchild because I am the only one who can dance pa’gellu (traditional dance of the Torajans for important events).”
Cynthia Nathania Allositandi, Barista, United Arab Emirates
“There’s a Batak tradition called marbinda where everyone in the village chips in to buy either a pig or a water buffalo to slaughter for Christmas. After marhobas (slaughtering and distributing), my family always go on a picnic by Lake Toba to enjoy both the food and the view. I won’t be able to go back to Medan this year, but I will try to cook my own saksang (pork in blood stew). I am pretty good with cooking, really. Maybe I should consider becoming a chef for a living.”
Goklas Pandapotan Situmorang, shop clerk, Belgium
“I am proud to say that my family is a multi-cultural family. Every Christmas, Eid-ul-Fitr and Lunar New Year, my mother and I are always busy in the kitchen making kue lapis legit (also known as spekkoek, Dutch-Indonesian layered cake) for our relatives. It’s always a joy to see their happy faces as they enjoy the cake, especially my sweet and cute little nephews and nieces! But it usually ends up with my face frowning as well, because in the end they always ask for angpau (also known as hong bao, red packet with money inside).”
Sophie Liem, designer, Australia
For most, it may be the food that was missed the most. I guess home is not where your heart is, but where your tummy is. Wherever we celebrate our Christmas this year, miles away from home or right back in the arms of your loved ones, may your holidays be a happy one!