19 Dec 2017
4 Unusual Ways Bali Celebrates Christmas
Christmas in Bali is always very festive and diverse.
The Balinese believe that particularly at this time of year, the most important thing is to share happiness, joy and love. For this reason they believe they should not be rigid in their beliefs and are accepting of people of every different faith.
As Bali continues to grow as a welcoming and loving community we see an abundance of different traditions of all different faiths throughout the Christmas season.
Here is a list of 4 different and unusual traditions that you’ll see during a tropical Christmas in Bali!
1. B A M B O O C A N O N S
Along the islands of Flores, around Christmas you won’t hear the usual jolly jingles or carols. Instead you’ll hear the constant alarming ruckus of bamboos being set a light all to the time of New Years!
The use of bamboo cannons has many meanings.
The use of cannons is deeply rooted in the island’s culture, previously only ever fired when there was a death of a village elder. However as Christianity continued to grow, Christmas began to hold great significance to many of those who took home on the island. The cannons now throughout this season represent the birth of christ and is a celebratory event.
If you ever visit Flores around this time and have the pleasure to watch these bamboo canons ignite, remember to keep a good distance – the sound is overwhelming and can cause a bit of damage if you’re too close!
2. N G E J O T
As mentioned before, the Balinese believe strongly that Christmas is the time to share and welcome everyone with open arms.
That being said, nothing is more welcoming than sharing healthy food!
Ngejot is a tradition where the Balinese cook their favourite dishes and carry these delicacies in a basket, on their heads as an offering to their neighbours.
This tradition symbolises peace and unity, sharing and love.
Although there are differences in religion and values between neighbours there is one thing that both can agree on – delicious healthy food! If there is one time to let your diet slip and indulge in some nourishing home cooked meals its Ngejot.
3. P E N J O R C H R I S T M A S T R E E S
In Bali, the Balinese have a different version of a Christmas tree known as ‘Penjor’. These are a curved bamboo poles that is decorated with coconut leaves and rice plant branches. They are curved to symbolise the highest and most sacred mountain in Bali and for that reason these decorations can be made as tall as 10 metres!
At the centre of these trees are offerings known as ‘Sanggah Chuck’ which hold a bag of basic house goods.
Penjors are usually also a bonding experience with family as loved ones come together to assemble the great tree and then mount it front of their houses.
It is said that the trees bring safety and wealth as it praises Hyang Giri Path the God of the Mountains.
Want to know the last unusual tradition? Keep reading!
4. C H R I S T M A S T R E E C O M P E T I T I O N
Although Penjor’s a special kind of Christmas tree, the Balinese also decorate the western Christmas pine trees. Throughout the season, Christmas tree competitions are found all over in Bali and they’re made with pre-used goods. Creative trees range from fruit skin, tin cans and even chicken fur!
The campaign was created by the government to promote a festive community celebration that was still conscious of being eco-friendly.
If you’re in Bali during December remember to look out for these amazing and at times, spiritual Christmas traditions!