Uti Paransih, mother of a beautiful daughter Keara and major hand smocking aficionado, shares about her Christmas in Jakarta, Indonesia. The country’s population is mostly Muslim but Christmas is much loved by the Christian community and the holiday season is celebrated by all!
What does the city look like during Christmas?
Christmas is one of the biggest events of the year in our busy city. The heart of the capital is filled with massive and majestic decorations. The streets and shopping malls have amazing Christmas trees and bedazzled lightings everywhere!
Jakarta is so hot you could almost melt so there’s obviously no snow and clearly no cold winter ambiance but it’s still magical!
How does your family celebrate?
My family and relatives live all over Indonesia so Christmas and the New Year are a special times of the year to gather all together. Some of us are Muslims and other Christians but the warmth and closeness of family ties is what matters, more than the religion. This is what we celebrate : our love for one another!
We usually enjoy a festive meal in a lovely restaurant or gather in our grandma’s house, eating delicious local foods. We love to have Christmas movie marathon until midnight watching as many as we can!
As a fashion lover, it’s also that time of the year I can finally dress up Keara in Christmas themed dresses! It’s my favorite! It’s my way of showing her how much I care for her and of getting into a festive mood!
Indonesia is famous for its traditional costumes called kebaya. This outfit is often made of precious fabrics and richly ornated. We wear it for weddings but not for Christmas.
Can you tell us more about your traditional holiday treats?
In Indonesia we love cookies! The Nastar is my favourite. It’s a butter biscuit with pineapple jam filling.
We also have Putri Salju which means Snow Princess. These are covered with white powdered sugar which explains the name. My grandmother always bakes them for us!
Another treat we enjoy are cheese snacks called Kaasstengels.
What about the traditional songs?
We have many Christmas carols. The most famous one sang on Christmas Eve is “Malam Kudus”, its most important message is “Malam Kudus, Sunyi Senyap” meaning embrace the silence to appreciate your blessings. It’s our version of the “Holy Night”.
How do you call Santa?
We call him Sinterklas just like the Dutch! This is due to our colonial history, our archipelago was under the Dutch crown and heavy influence of the Dutch United East India Company.
Our Christmas traditions including that of the Christmas tree are very much inspired by western culture.
Do you have any other special traditions during this time of the year?
Yes! My daughter is a Christmas princess since she was born on the 15th of December. This month is therefore very special to us, it's a double celebration.
We have a 'stay-cation hoping' tradition! Each year, we select a new hotel in which to spend her birthday. We like to change and discover new ones. This year, we are staying at the Four Seasons Jakarta.
Their 2022 Christmas theme is love, light and laughter. At the foot of the Iconic Grand Staircase there is a beautiful Christmas tree decorated with dazzling ornaments and presents underneath. It creates such a warm welcoming!
They have also set up sweet gingerbread houses offering delicious cookies. The biscuits have the sweetest names : Jingle Bells Cookies, Santa’s Elves...
We have enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea as a start and truly appreciate the air of jolly merriment filling the hotel.
A final word and Christmas wish?
Have a great Christmas and New Year Holiday!
For more handsmocking and little girl’s fashion inspirations, follow my Instagram @utiparansih