Gatherings, feasting, merriment fill the weeks of Advent anticipation. Calista X shares the distinctive ways she has celebrated with friends in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Consider how you can extend the good will of this season into the new year, especially with people who share different traditions, values and beliefs.
"I live in the world's most populated Muslim country, I am in an area that is primarily animistic with large pockets of Protestant and Catholic Christians as well as Muslims and Buddhists. Christmas in America means gathering with your family. Christmas in our part of Indonesia means gathering with friends and neighbors. It is all about community. With many, many Christmas services starting in late November and running through early January there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate Christmas with your community.
On Christmas Eve we gather for a long service at the church that starts with traditional music, lightening our candles, and hearing a sermon. About two hours into it, things switch to a more upbeat tempo with musical performances and dramas until late in the night. After that a large group of us heads to the hospital where we visit, sing and pray with each patient and their family who is still in the hospital over Christmas. We also give them a gift. Then we welcome Christmas with a meal at one of our senior doctor's houses.
On Christmas morning, after church ends around 11 am, we start visiting. Visiting our many friends and neighbors lasts for at least a week. We go to each of neighbor's or friend's house to share greetings. They serve cookies, snacks, and drinks and if you are a close friend or someone important you will get a rice meal with vegetables and meat, usually a pig that they have butchered the day before. For some the visit doesn't last long because we see each other regularly but for others this is the one time of the year we may see them, so it is always good to catch-up on their news and hear their stories from the past year like who got married or who had a baby etc.
One of the things that stands out to me about this time of community though, is that Muslim and Buddhist people come to visit their Christian friends during this time. They take the time to honor that friendship during their special days. There is a separate table for halal (prepared according to Muslim guidelines) food though so no worries about the Muslims eating pork :) This practice is then reversed during Idul Fitri when Christians visit their Muslim friends and neighbors and the same with Chinese New Year. During each of these holidays, there is a chance to ask for and receive forgiveness for any wrongs done. Then you eat together.
I wish I had a picture of this happening but I don't as we are all busy talking when we get together. I will attach a few pictures though of Christmas here. Small versions as otherwise our internet won't be up to being able to send it :)
West Kalimantan, Indonesia
Calista Yates, '04 Colleague, served as a Medical Nurse and Trainer in West Kalimanthan, Indonesia. In 2013, she returned to West Kalimantan, serving as a nurse midwife and mentor with WorldVenture.