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Archive for the 'Indonesian Holidays' Category

Your Entryway To Indonesian Culture


Anybody who’s visited Indonesia knows that the country is big on culture.

From traditional handicrafts and performances to pariwisata budaya (“cultural tourism”), Indonesians enjoy sharing their culture with a world that’s usually all too eager to overlook its multicolored facets.

How well do you know Indonesian culture? If your answer is “not at all,” this lesson is for you.

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  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Philosophies and Religions
  3. The Indonesian Family
  4. Indonesian Art
  5. Indonesian Food
  6. Traditional Holidays
  7. Conclusion

1. Values and Beliefs

Two Indonesian Children Waving Indonesian Flags for Independence Day

“Unity in Diversity.”

That’s the English translation of the old Javanese phrase Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, the official motto of the Republic of Indonesia.

Literally translated, that phrase means “[From] many, remains one.”

Indonesia is a young country, having just achieved its independence from Japan (and later the Netherlands) in the mid-twentieth century. The popular historical narrative is that Sukarno (like many Indonesians, he has only one name) and his government unified the country and stoked the fires of nationalism for the benefit of everyone.

How, though, does one unify a country with hundreds of millions of people across tens of thousands of islands?

Sukarno was working with roughly the same borders that were established in colonial times, when British-held Malaysia was separated from Dutch-held Indonesia. These borders stretched from the island of Aceh in the east all the way across Java, Sumatra, Bali, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi, reaching Papua.

Throughout Indonesia, cultural diversity is fairly prominent and lends the country much of its richness. Today, different islands do have different dominant cultures, but the country is still remarkably unified despite the occasional separatist movement. 

This is possible through a culture of tolerance and santai (“relaxation”), where most Indonesians believe it’s not their prerogative to look too closely into the affairs of others. Although there are differences in ideologies that spring up, Indonesians tend to allow people to believe and practice as they wish.

To that end, and also because Indonesia is still a developing country, there is a lot of individual freedom and an assumption that people will generally follow the rules. Although there exists policing and bureaucracy, the streets are hardly patrolled and informal arrangements (distinct from bribes!) keep people happy when dealing with each other.

2. Philosophies and Religions

An Indonesian Mosque

A huge chunk of understanding Indonesian culture rests in learning about the country’s approach to religion. 

It’s impossible to discuss religion in Indonesia without mentioning more history. Traders from Africa and the Middle East knew the Malay Archipelago as a land rich in spices and tropical crops, and they brought with them the religion of Islam.

Today, Islam is by far the dominant religion nationwide, with hundreds of millions of devout followers.

Most restaurants are halal by default, and it’s impossible to avoid the beautiful cry of the azan (“prayer call”) five times a day. Women tend to cover their hair with hijabs or jilbab, a garment typical of Indonesian Islam that reaches down to the midriff.

Although it may be surprising based on the population numbers, the government recognizes several religions as official. In Bali, for instance, Hinduism is much more prominant than Islam, and most people there worship at traditional temples. In addition to Islam and Hinduism, the other official religions are Christianity, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

Judaism is considered a foreign curiosity, and atheism is neither widespread nor particularly liked. Atheist travelers to Indonesia can avoid uncomfortable comments if they “adopt” one of the official religions if asked about it.

These religions really do co-exist in a very visible way. In Yogyakarta, a predominantly Muslim area in Central Java, there are Christian and Islamic universities literally across the street from one another, and tourists flock an hour or two away from the city to visit Hindu temples at Borobudur.

3. The Indonesian Family

You can’t discuss culture without touching on notions of family, no matter where you are in the world. This is an area where Indonesian culture and traditions really shine through—even into the language itself!

Indonesians tend to have relatively large families. For example, three or four children may be living with their parents and a few members of their extended family. They don’t tend to move that far from home, though the economic draw of big cities has made it quite tempting to do just that. Generally, though, in today’s Indonesia you meet people who live in the same general area that their grandparents did.

Indonesian people believe in a collective family concept. This means that your actions, whether good or bad, reflect on your family. A deadbeat dropout is going to bring shame to their brothers, sisters, and cousins, while a fresh graduate in a technical field is going to be the pride of all the family members.

The closeness of the family is even noticeable in the Indonesian language! It’s correct and good Indonesian to address strangers as Bu (“mother”), Pak (“father”), Mas (“brother”), Kak (“sister”), and more. Listen closely in stores and restaurants and you’ll hear Indonesians saying these family member terms constantly, even to learners like yourself!

4. Indonesian Art

Sarongs Designed with Indonesian Batik Patterns

Unfortunately, Indonesian art has not been recognized on the world stage nearly as much as it should be. Beyond tourists bringing back the occasional souvenir from Bali, most people would be hard-pressed to name a single Indonesian actor, singer, painter, or poet.

This is all the more shameful because Indonesians love their own art.

Traditional shows such as wayang (“shadow puppet”) operas can last for hours and bring huge crowds of spectators, and any Indonesian university student has had the chance to attend a traditional gamelan class where gongs and bells are played in a choir.

Handicrafts such as batik fabric are visible throughout the archipelago as well. Batik is a method of coloring cloth by painting elaborate designs with hot wax before dyeing the cloth in such a way that the wax protects the designs. Many shops specialize purely in batik designs, boasting two or three floors of batik shopping space! Indonesians even have a special holiday dedicated to displaying batik designs through fashion shows and parades. 

If you ever get the chance to hang out in a city with a large population of young adults, you’ll definitely see someone break out the guitar at some point. Indonesians love music, and even though they prefer to sing American pop hits nowadays, Indonesian artists of all types exist and thrive.

There’s even a special genre of pounding dance music called dangdut, similar to trance or Mexican banda music. This type of music is ubiquitous in smaller restaurants and shops.

5. Indonesian Food

Indonesian Satay Dish with Veggies and Dipping Sauce

Indonesian culture and food go hand in hand. We’re actually coming out with an article specifically about this topic, so we won’t reveal too much here.

Indonesian food can be characterized as manis, gurih, pedas, and goreng—sweet, savory, spicy, and fried.

Street food is everywhere, especially at night. You’ll find fried bananas (pisang goreng), barbecue skewers (sate), filled thick pancakes (martabak manis), and even a type of savory tapioca ball in spicy peanut sauce known as cilok.

Thanks to Indonesia’s embrace of internationalism, it’s easy to find good food from all around the world.

Chinese immigrants to Indonesia centuries ago laid the groundwork for a particular type of Chinese-Indonesian fusion food stemming from the southern provinces of Canton and Hokkien. It’s sweet, but without the thick sauces found in Chinese restaurants in the United States or Europe.

In the malls and shopping centers, you’ll easily find upscale restaurants serving Thai, Korean, and Japanese food, plus of course European and American food. Unfortunately for world cuisine lovers, outside of the biggest cities it’s nearly impossible to find foreign restaurants actually run by foreigners.

Food in restaurants is usually eaten with utensils, rarely with chopsticks or with the hands. Generally, each person orders their own plate for the meal instead of eating family-style.

6. Traditional Holidays

An Indonesian Child Holding an Indonesian Flag on Independence Day

The two biggest holidays each year are New Year’s Day on January 1 and Indonesian Independence Day on August 17, during which public businesses are closed and anybody with fireworks sets them off.

Independence Day, or Hari Kemerdekaan, is observed with a flag celebration in the morning and traditional games all day for children and adults alike. Indonesians tend to be fairly patriotic, and as August 17 approaches, the red-and-white flags come out in greater and greater numbers.

Of course, the holiday that can’t be ignored is Ramadan, the annual holy month of the Islamic calendar. Since it doesn’t follow the “standard” calendar exactly, Ramadan is on a slightly different date every year.

During this month, it is forbidden for Muslims to eat or drink at all during the hours from sunrise to sunset. In comparison to normal days, you hear significantly more prayer calls and see a lot more social activity in the evenings. The fasting is a little easier for Muslims in Indonesia since the country is located at the equator, meaning days only last about twelve hours no matter what time of year it is!

7. Conclusion

If this page got you even more interested in Indonesian culture, you’ve come to the right website.

Learning Indonesian with IndonesianPod101 is an excellent way to get exposed to Indonesian culture. We provide cultural notes in each podcast episode as well as special culture-related articles on our blog.

Culture, after all, is really just what any group of people have collectively agreed upon as “normal.” By slowly immersing yourself into real-life Indonesian, you’ll get more and more used to what Indonesians think, say, and feel over time.

Mastering the Indonesian language is one thing, but using it in a culturally correct way is a whole other step. As you learn Indonesian, make sure to do so using a holistic, well-rounded platform like

How does the culture of Indonesia compare with your country’s culture? Let us know in the comments!

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Kartini Day: Celebrating an Indonesian Woman’s Dream

Around the globe, the 18th-20th centuries saw much initial progress toward women’s rights and gender equality. In the United States and Europe, names such as Sojourner Truth, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton often come to mind when discussing these topics. But in Indonesia, the most commended name in this regard is R.A. Kartini

In this article, you’ll learn more about this incredible woman and her namesake holiday, Kartini Day.

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1. What is Kartini Day?

A Sketch Drawing of Kartini

Kartini Day is an Indonesian holiday first officially celebrated in 1964, established by the first Indonesian president Sukarno. It takes place each year on April 21, the birthdate of Raden Adjeng Kartini (fondly referred to as Ibu Kartini or Mother Kartini). 

On this day, Indonesians commemorate the life of Kartini and celebrate the strides she made toward the emansipasi (emancipation) of women in the country. To give you some background…

Indonesian women during this period had very limited rights; only a few were able to get a good education, and all were expected to marry. Girls of reputable families were required to endure a period of isolation upon turning twelve years old, during which they were forbidden from leaving the home until they were wed. Polygamy was the norm during this time and most marriages were pre-arranged. 

Who is Kartini?

R.A. Kartini was born in 1879 to a wealthy and powerful family in Java. 

Due to the status of her family and the academic blood that ran through their veins, Kartini was fortunate in being able to attain a basic education. But once she reached the age of twelve, Kartini began her period of isolation. She bided her time in self-education, reading a variety of material and writing letters to her Dutch friends (as she had already learned the Dutch language). Her reading and letter conversations introduced her to concepts of feminism, female empowerment, and gender equality, which she took to heart and implemented into her later life. 

In 1903, Kartini was wed to a regency chief named Joyodiningrat, who had three wives already. Her husband allowed her to open a school for girls, which she ran herself until her early death in 1904 following the birth of her first child. She was only 25 years old, yet in her short life, she managed to not only make a name for herself but also to raise the social status of Indonesian women and highlight key issues regarding gender inequality. 

Even today, the biography of Kartini inspires Indonesian women and women around the world. 

2. Kartini Day Celebrations

An Indonesian Woman Wearing a Traditional Kebaya

Kartini Day is largely a time of celebrating and promoting women’s rights and female empowerment. Because this means different things to different people, there are many ways that Indonesians celebrate Kartini Day. 

One key component you should note is that women wear pakaian adat tradisional (traditional costumes) on this day. The two items most often worn include the selendang (a type of shawl) and the kebaya (an embroidered blouse-dress). Some men also choose to dress in traditional costume on this day, wearing batik (a special type of fabric design native to Indonesia). 

In addition, there are many Kartini Day activities taking place all over Indonesia, with competitions being particularly popular. For example, there’s the lomba memasak (cooking contest), during which mother-daughter teams work to cook the best meal. There are also fashion shows, makeup competitions, and drawing contests. 

On Kartini Day, Indonesian school teachers may encourage their male students to show appreciation toward their female classmates; in addition, they may give special lessons about Kartini. 

3. From Darkness Into Light

Kartini’s days of letter-writing played a significant role in her life and helped to shape her worldview. Her letter exchanges with friends and family are considered so inseparable from her story that they were actually compiled into a book. 

This book is called From Darkness Into Light, and it was published by Mr. J.H. Abendanon in 1911, just a few short years following Kartini’s death. An English translation was produced by Agnes L. Symmers later on. 

4. Essential Vocabulary to Know for Kartini Day

Several Pieces of Indonesian Batik Fabric

Want to impress your Indonesian friends with your relevant vocabulary knowledge on Kartini Day? Here are some of the words from this article, plus a few more:

  • Festival (Festival) – noun
  • Selendang (Selendang) – noun
  • Kebaya (Kebaya) – noun
  • Batik (Batik) – noun
  • Pakaian adat tradisional (Traditional costumes) – phrase
  • Emansipasi (Emancipation) – noun
  • Peragaan busana (Fashion show) – phrase
  • Kompetisi (Competition) – noun
  • Lomba memasak (Cooking contest) – phrase
  • Lomba merias (Makeup contest) – phrase
  • Lomba menggambar (Drawing competition) – phrase

Make sure to visit our Kartini Day vocabulary list to hear and practice along with the pronunciation of each word! 

Final Thoughts

Kartini, often labeled the first Indonesian feminist, is considered a national hero and it’s not hard to see why. She had the courage and determination to go against the grind, using her insight, intellect, and vision to help Java and Indonesia take positive first steps toward female empowerment and gender equality. 

We hope you enjoyed learning about Kartini Day with us, and that you walk away from this article with a better understanding of Indonesian culture. 

Who are the most prominent female figures in your nation’s history? Have any of them inspired you? How so? We always love hearing your thoughts! 

If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more great content from IndonesianPod101, have a look at the following articles: 

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Celebrating Pancasila Day in Indonesia


Everyone has certain values, ideologies, or principles which guide them and help them be the best person they can be. Whether this is a certain religious code, a philosophy, or just a general mindset, these values are an important part of being human.

Well, countries are founded on values and principles, too!

In Indonesia, this is the Five Principles of Pancasila, which we’ll discuss in this article. You’ll also learn about Pancasila Day in Indonesia, how Indonesians observe this holiday, and some useful vocabulary.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Pancasila Day?

The Five Principles of Pancasila Emblem

Pancasila Day, though not a public holiday, is a day of peringatan (“commemoration” ) for the Lima Asas Pancasila (“Five Principles of Pancasila” ). These principles are the cornerstone of Indonesian government and society, and they are:

1. Belief in the One True God
2. A just and civilized humanity
3. The unity of all Indonesians
4. Democracy under the wisdom of a popular collective of representatives
5. Social justice for all Indonesian people

These are the principles that were laid down by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, in 1945, right before the country gained its freedom and independence. This ideologi (“ideology” ) was a way of ensuring kerukunan (“harmony” ) amongst the diverse groups of people all throughout Indonesia.

The thread of monotheism that runs through the Five Principles of Pancasila helped maintain greater peace amongst Christians and Muslims, and the other four principles promised equal rights and representation for all Indonesians.

On Pancasila Day, Indonesians are encouraged to commemorate and reflect on their dasar negara (“national principle” ).

2. When is Pancasila Day?

A Man Thinking with His Hand to His Chin

Every year, Indonesians celebrate Pancasila Day on June 1. This is the date on which Sukarno gave his speech in 1945.

3. Indonesian Pancasila Day Traditions

Flower Wreaths at a cemetery

In Indonesia, Pancasila Day is not a public holiday, so many people still need to work on this day. But this doesn’t mean that Indonesians forego celebrations altogether!

There are usually flag-raising ceremonies in honor of the negara (“country” ) and its founding principles. During these ceremonies, there may be speeches or demonstrations concerning the role of the Pancasila in modern-day Indonesia. Some cities in Indonesia may hold special Pancasila parades, such as the one Ende held in 2017.

Due to the unifying nature of the Pancasila, Indonesians often utilize this holiday to remind their fellow citizens of how important it is to be civil with each other. This can take the form of a vigil or prayer night with members of various religions joining together, or perhaps a poetry reading (like the one held in 2019 in Semarang).

4. The Garuda Pancasila

Do you know what Indonesia’s national emblem is?

It’s called the Garuda Pancasila. This emblem features a shield that depicts the Five Principles of Pancasila, protecting the body of a Javan hawk-eagle (called a garuda). The garuda is holding a strip of paper that reads: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity” from Javanese). These words are the national motto of Indonesia.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Pancasila Day

Indonesia Highlighted on a Map

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article!

  • Kebangsaan — “Nationality” [n.]
  • Negara — “Country” [n.]
  • Ideologi — “Ideology” [n.]
  • Sarasehan — “Gathering” [n.]
  • Lima Asas Pancasila — “Five Principles of Pancasila”
  • Pedoman — “Guidance” [n.]
  • Peringatan — “Commemoration” [n.]
  • Kerukunan — “Harmony” [n.]
  • Berjuang — “Battle” [v.]
  • Penjajahan — “Colonization” [n.]
  • Dasar negara — “National principle”

If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase listed above, be sure to visit our Indonesian Pancasila Day vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Pancasila Day with us, and that you took away some valuable information about Indonesian culture.

What are the Five Principles of Pancasila? Do you remember? Leave us your answer in the comments, and let us know your thoughts on this holiday!

If you want to continue learning about Indonesian culture and the language, has several free resources for you:

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We want to help you reach your language-learning goals, and we’ll be here with you every step of the way there.

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Hari Idul Fitri: Celebrating Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia

Islam is the number-one religion in Indonesia, with roughly eighty-seven percent of the country’s population identifying as Muslim (as of 2010). In addition, Indonesia is known to have more Muslims than any other country in the world! This means that Muslim holidays are a pretty big deal here.

A major Muslim holiday, the Eid ul-Fitr celebration in Indonesia is a festive occasion with a variety of traditions. In this article, you’ll learn about the origins of Eid ul-Fitr, Indonesian observances for this holiday, and some new vocabulary words!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Eid ul-Fitr?

Eid ul-Fitr is an important Muslim holiday, marking the end of Ramadan fasting. This holiday was initiated by the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Traditionally, Eid ul-Fitr was celebrated in Medina following the Prophet Muhammad’s journey out of Mecca. Here, he found people having a massive celebration; he told them that there were two other days on which they should be celebrating instead (this holiday along with Eid ul-Adha).

Considering Indonesia’s huge Muslim population, it’s no surprise that Eid ul-Fitr is a major celebration each year!

2. When is Eid ul-Fitr This Year?

The Quran Lit by a Candle

Each year, the date of Eid ul-Fitr varies on the Gregorian calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: May 24
  • 2021: May 13
  • 2022: May 3
  • 2023: April 22
  • 2024: April 10
  • 2025: March 31
  • 2026: March 20
  • 2027: March 10
  • 2028: February 27
  • 2029: February 15

Note: The holiday actually starts the evening before the dates given here, and then lasts until the end of the given dates. Dates can also vary a little based on the moon’s cycle in a given year.

3. The Eid ul-Fitr Celebration in Indonesia

A Woman Visiting Her Parents with Her Child

The night before the Eid celebration, Muslims gather in the mosques to proclaim Allah as the Great God (an act which is called takbir in Indonesian). On Eid ul-Fitr, Indonesian Muslims get up early in the morning in order to perform ablution (called wudhu in Indonesian). After this, they put on baju baru (“new clothes” ) and visit mosques for the Eid prayer. Before they enter the mosque, however, Muslims are obligated to give an Eid ul-Fitr donation to the poor and other people who are in need.

Many Indonesians have a mudik (“homecoming” ). They visit their family members and offer each other Eid ul-Fitr greetings. One of the most common Eid ul-Fitr wishes in Indonesian is Selamat Idul Fitri (“Happy Eid Mubarak”). This mudik is unique because many Indonesians actually begin this visit a couple of days before the holiday begins.

Earlier, we mentioned an Eid ul-Fitr donation that Muslims are obligated to offer. Well, in Yogyakarta, this takes the form of an event called Grebeg Syawal. During this event, Indonesians fight over a mound of local produce offered by the sultan. It’s believed that receiving this produce is a sign of special blessings.

Pontianak employs the use of cannon fire to enliven its Eid ul-Fitr celebrations. A jumbo-sized wooden cannon mounted on the bank of the Kapuas River blasts throughout the holiday, accompanying the sound of chants and drums. Traditionally, Indonesians used this cannon fire as a means of repelling an evil female ghost called kuntilanak.

4. Holiday Food for Eid ul-Fitr

A dish called ketupat is served on Eid ul-Fitr. This is a glutinous rice dish wrapped in coconut leaves and cooked in coconut milk for a distinct savory flavor. Other popular dishes for this holiday include:

  • Rendang
  • Gulai ayam (“gulai chicken” )
  • Opor ayam

What’s your favorite Indonesian food? Check out this list, and let us know in the comments!

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia

A Bedug, a Drum in Java for Religious Use

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia!

  • Kereta api — “Train” [n.]
  • Idul Fitri — “Day after Ramadan” [n.]
  • Rendang — “Rendang” [n.]
  • Baju baru — “New clothes” [n.]
  • Bedug — “Bedug” [n.]
  • THR (Tunjangan Hari Raya) — “The Religious Holiday Allowance”
  • Oleh-oleh — “Souvenir” [n.]
  • Ketupat — “Ketupat” [n.]
  • Opor Ayam — “Opor Ayam” [n.]
  • Mudik — “Homecoming” [n.]
  • Gulai Ayam — “Gulai chicken” [n.]
  • Kurma — “Date” [n.]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, be sure to check out our Indonesian Eid ul-Fitr vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you discovered something new about Indonesian culture in this article, and that we’ve fueled your desire to keep learning!

Do you celebrate Eid ul-Fitr in your country? If so, are celebrations there similar to those in Indonesia, or maybe a little different? We look forward to hearing from you! has more free learning resources for you, such as the following blog posts:

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Anyway, we’re glad you joined us today to learn about the Indonesian take on this Muslim holiday. Happy learning! 🙂

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Jumat Agung: Celebrating Good Friday in Indonesia

Good Friday in Indonesia, called Jumat Agung, is a major holiday for the country’s Christian population—it’s an even bigger holiday here than Easter! In this article, you’ll learn about the origins of certain Good Friday celebrations in Indonesia, what those celebrations look like today, and much more.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Good Friday?

Good Friday is a Christian holiday celebrated in many countries around the world, by both Protestants and Catholics. This holiday commemorates the death of Jesus on the cross, as well as his suffering beforehand, before finally celebrating his Resurrection on Easter. Catholics know this holiday as Trihari Suci, or “Easter Triduum.”

In Indonesia, Good Friday is a time of mati raga, or “mortification,” in commemoration of Jesus’ own suffering. It’s also a time of celebration in honor of his Resurrection three days later.

So, is Good Friday a public holiday in Indonesia?

Yes, it is! Due to the large number of Christians in the country, the Good Friday holiday in Indonesia is considered a public holiday. Most people have the day off from work and school to attend the festivities. Interestingly, Indonesians do not consider Easter a public holiday, though.

2. When is Good Friday in Indonesia?

Someone Offering a Plate Filled with Ashes, in Which a Cross Is Drawn

Because the date of Good Friday varies from year to year, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

  • 2020: April 10
  • 2021: April 2
  • 2022: April 15
  • 2023: April 7
  • 2024: March 29
  • 2025: April 18
  • 2026: April 3
  • 2027: March 26
  • 2028: April 14
  • 2029: March 30

3. Celebrating Good Friday in Indonesian Culture

Holding a Cross During a Procession for Good Friday

On Good Friday, Indonesians re-internalize the suffering of Jesus and commemorate his death on the cross. To do so, they attend church services for the three days of the Triduum, where celebrations culminate on Easter Sunday. Another popular tradition is the Drama penyiksaan Yesus, or “Stations of the Cross play,” in which Jesus’ suffering while bearing the cross is depicted.

The Holy Week in Larantuka

In Larantuka, there’s a special Pekan suci, or “Holy Week,” tradition—the only one of its kind in Indonesia. The Good Friday portion of the celebration draws crowds from the island of Flores, Australia, and around the world.

For this Good Friday tradition, thousands of people dress in black, parading statues of Jesus and Mother Mary from one point to another. While parading, these people sing Gregorian songs.

This tradition began about five centuries ago when a statue depicting a woman showed up on the shore. On the side of it, there was writing that no one at the time was able to read. They called it Tuan Ma, and locals worshipped it in the hope of receiving blessings.

A century later, a missionary from Portugal arrived in Indonesia and found that the writing on the statue said Reinha Rosario Maria. He also noticed that its face resembled that of Mother Mary. In 1650, the king of Larantuka was baptized, handing over his kingdom to Mother Mary.

The Cathedral Church in Jakarta

On Good Friday, Jakarta is also abuzz with religious traditions and festivities. Perhaps the most popular are those taking place at the Jakarta Cathedral. A couple of years ago, this cathedral in Jakarta needed to employ the use of online registration to avoid becoming too crowded!

During these celebrations, Jesus’ suffering is portrayed, and worshippers can be found mencium kaki salib, or “kissing the foot of the cross.” Because celebrations are so large in this cathedral, and in other churches in this area, it’s not uncommon for police to be around, keeping the celebrations secure and worshippers safe.

4. Christianity in Indonesia

Children Attending a Church Service

When and where did the spread of Christianity begin in Indonesia?

The Christian religion had left its trace in Sumatra Island in the seventh century AD. However, its continuous dissemination did not happen until the sixteenth century through Portuguese missionary work in Maluku, and then it spread to Flores and Timor Island. Apart from the religious mission, the Portuguese came to Indonesia to trade spices.

5. Essential Indonesian Vocab for Good Friday

Easter Triduum

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Good Friday!

  • Mati raga — “Mortification”
  • Ibadah penghormatan salib — “Veneration of the cross”
  • Drama penyiksaan Yesus — “Stations of the Cross play”
  • Trihari Suci — “Easter Triduum”
  • Pekan suci — “Holy Week”
  • Pra-Paskah — “Lent”
  • Prosesi — “Procession”
  • Katedral — “Cathedral”
  • Pengakuan dosa — “Penance and Reconciliation”
  • Jalan Salib — “Station of the Cross”
  • Mencium kaki salib — “Kissing the foot of the cross”
  • Jumat Agung — “Good Friday”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Indonesian Good Friday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Good Friday in Indonesia with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information!

Do you celebrate Good Friday in your country? We would love to hear from you in the comments, and learn about this holiday in your culture.

If you want to learn even more about Indonesian culture and holidays, has much more where this came from:

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How to Celebrate the Indonesian Lunar New Year

One of the most important holidays in Indonesia for those of Chinese ethnicity, the Lunar New Year in Indonesia consists of many unique, traditional celebrations. In this article, you’ll learn about Chinese New Year festivities in Indonesia, read about common beliefs and symbolism, and gain a new set of handy Indonesian vocabulary for this holiday.

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1. What is the Chinese New Year in Indonesia?

Every year around the beginning of February, ethnic Chinese in Indonesia celebrate Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year celebrations are full of traditions, especially that of praying for abundant good fortune in the coming year. The Chinese New Year celebration in Indonesia is fifteen days long and ends on day fifteen with Cap Go Meh.

2. Dates for the Indonesian Lunar New Year

Flowers and Red Packet for Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, meaning that its date on the Gregorian calendar changes from year to year. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: January 25
  • 2021: February 12
  • 2022: February 1
  • 2023: January 22
  • 2024: February 10
  • 2025: January 29
  • 2026: February 17
  • 2027: February 6
  • 2028: January 26
  • 2029: February 13

Did you know that Indonesians also celebrate the Gregorian New Year and Islamic New Year?

3. Chinese New Year Celebrations & Traditions

An Indonesian Family

There are many colorful and unique traditions for the Chinese New Year, most of which have to do with warding off bad luck and inviting good luck for the coming year. First and foremost, this involves perfectly cleaning one’s home; this is thought to “wash away” any bad luck from the previous year. Another common Chinese New Year tradition in Indonesia is to repaint one’s windows and doors before attaching a piece of paper with the Chinese character Fu on them, which symbolically “attaches” good luck to their home.

People will cut their hair and buy baju baru, or “new clothes,” to wear on this day. To further bring good luck for the Lunar New Year, Indonesians often wash any statues of gods or goddesses using water and seven kinds of flowers which counteract bad things.

The night before, people open their doors and windows so that good luck can enter, and the lights are kept on to symbolize a bright new year.

On the Chinese New Year, Indonesian keluarga, or “families,” will go to temples decorated with lanterns to pray for good luck. In the temple, there are also red pieces of paper containing prayers that are hung from the ceiling. In Semarang, Central Java, Sam Poo Kong Temple is very crowded during Chinese New Year celebrations. Tourists often join ethnic Chinese to witness the ceremonies. All types of food vendors come, offering Semarang specialty snacks, such as wedang ronde, tahu gimbal, and spring rolls.

Chinese New Year celebrations are full of symbolism and meaning. Barongsai, or “lion dance,” performances are synonymous with happiness and luck. The amount of food served during Chinese New Year is also symbolic of the twelve zodiacs, consisting of twelve main dishes and twelve types of cake. Some common foods are:

  • Siu Noodles, which symbolize long life and prosperity
  • Lapis legit, which symbolizes layers of fortune
  • Fish, which symbolizes great fortune
  • Jeruk mandarin, or “mandarin orange”
  • Bakmi goreng, or” fried noodle”
  • Buah naga, or “dragon fruit”

Eating porridge is prohibited because it symbolizes poverty.

Singkawang in West Kalimantan celebrates the fifteenth day of Chinese New Year by holding a Tatung parade—that is, one of spirit mediums. In this celebration, the Tatung, who is in a state of trance, will stab himself with a sharp object. Singkawang is the only place in the world that still practices this old Chinese tradition.

4. Good and Bad Colors

The color red is synonymous with Chinese New Year. However, in Indonesia, Lunar New Year tradition also prohibits two colors. Do you know what they are?

In addition to bringing feelings of joy and optimism, the color red is also believed to ward off evil spirits. However, black and white are avoided because black is the bearer of bad luck, while white is the color of death.

5. Vocabulary for the Chinese New Year Festival in Indonesia

A Chinese New Year Red Lantern Decoration

Ready to review some of the Indonesian vocabulary words from this article? Here are the essential words you should know for the Chinese New Year in Indonesia!

  • Merah — “Red”
  • Keluarga — “Family”
  • Vihara — “Vihara
  • Lampion merah — “Red lantern”
  • Angpau — “Red envelope”
  • Baju baru — “New clothes”
  • Jeruk mandarin — “Mandarin orange”
  • Barongsai — “Lion dance”
  • Bakmi goreng — “Fried noodle”
  • Kembang api — “Firework”
  • Buah naga — “Dragon fruit”
  • Kue keranjang — “Chinese New Year’s cake”
  • Pecinan — “Chinatown”
  • Perayaan — “Celebration”
  • Tahun Baru Imlek — “Lunar New Year”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Indonesian Lunar New Year vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Chinese New Year in Indonesia with us! How do you celebrate the New Year in your country? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning even more about Indonesian culture and celebrations, you may find the following pages useful:

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Indonesian Remembrance Day: Hero’s Day in Indonesia

On National Heroes’ Day, Indonesians commemorate and honor all those who lost their lives in their 1945 battle against the British. Many people on both sides lost their lives, but in the end, Indonesia was able to remain free from Dutch colonial rule. This day is sometimes referred to as Warriors Day or National Hero Day.

In this article, you’ll learn about the history of Heroes’ Day in Indonesia, how Indonesians observe it today, and some practical holiday vocabulary!

At, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Heroes’ Day in Indonesia?

On Indonesian Heroes’ Day, Indonesians commemorate the deaths of 16,000 Indonesian and 2,000 British soldiers in a three-week-long bloody battle. This battle resulted from Indonesia’s resistance to British efforts of returning Indonesia to the Dutch.

The battle of November 10, 1945 was triggered by the death of Brigadier Mallaby, an accident that could have been avoided. However, the British government reacted by sending 24,000 soldiers to occupy Indonesia. The Battle of Surabaya was acknowledged by the British as the hardest war after World War II, and it was marked by two generals, three British war aircraft, and thousands of British soldiers.

2. When is Indonesian Heroes’ Day?

Heroes’ Day Statue

Each year, Indonesians celebrate Heroes’ Day on November 10.

3. Celebrations & Traditions for Heroes’ Day in Indonesia

Kalibata Heroes Cemetery

Every November 10, each house in Indonesia displays the red and white flag half-mast. All members of society pray for the spirits of the national heroes and meditate for sixty seconds all at once at 8:15 local time. The President of Indonesia leads a national visit to the complex of Taman Makam Pahlawan Kalibata, Jakarta, which is followed by a flower sowing procession. On that day, the President also announces the granting of the National Hero title at the Istana Negara.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, the commemoration is held on the deck of KRI Kerapu, a warship of the Indonesian National Army Navy. Seven miles off the LANTAMAL VI floating dock, after the ceremony, participants drift a flower bouquet consisting of the three forces of the Indonesian National Army and the Indonesian National Police.

In Solo, Central Java, Heroes’ Day is commemorated in a lively way. The historic steam train Sepur Kluthuk Jala Dara, filled with old and young residents alike wearing freedom fighters’ costumes, travels around Solo city. It’s not just that; Jalan Slamet Riyadi becomes the center of the celebration by the expansion of a giant red and white flag that measures 4 x 6 meters. The commemoration, which falls on the same day as car-free day, enables the meditation and the flag ceremony to be held in the middle of the main street of Solo city.

4. The British Soldiers

Why were the British soldiers in Indonesia at that time?

After losing the war, the Japanese had to get out of the occupied countries, including Indonesia. The British soldiers then came to Indonesia to disarm the Japanese soldiers, to free the Japanese prisoners of war, to discharge the Japanese soldiers, and finally to return power over Indonesia to the Dutch.

5. Essential Heroes’ Day Indonesian Vocabulary

Shirt of Indonesian Flag

Here’s the essential vocabulary you need to know for Heroes’ Day in Indonesia!

  • Hari Pahlawan
    “Heroes’ Day”
  • Pertempuran
  • Jasa
  • Upacara peringatan
    “Memorial ceremony”
  • Penjajah
  • Insiden
  • Konflik
  • Perjuangan
  • Bambu runcing
    “Sharpened bamboo”
  • Taman Makam Pahlawan Kalibata
    “Kalibata Heroes Cemetery”
  • Lomba orasi
    “Speech contest”

To hear each of these words pronounced, and to see them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Indonesian Heroes’ Day vocabulary list!


We hope you enjoyed learning about National Heroes’ Day in Indonesia with us, and that you were able to take away something valuable.

Learning about a country’s culture and history may be the most exciting and enriching aspects of trying to master a language. If you enjoyed this article and want to keep delving into Indonesian culture, you may find the following pages interesting:

Does your country have a similar day for remembering and honoring those fallen in battle? Let us know in the comments!

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Happy Heroes’ Day, Indonesia!

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How to Celebrate Batik Day in Indonesia

Indonesia celebrates national Batik Day each year in appreciation and admiration of the art of coloring clothing and other textiles via the Indonesian batik method, which has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage culture. In this article, you’ll learn more about what the unique Indonesian batik is, how Indonesians celebrate it, and why. In learning about this holiday, you’re gaining much insight into the rich culture and history of Indonesia—and we’re sure you’ll find the more familiar you are with Indonesian culture, the more fascinating the language will become!

At, we hope to make every aspect of your learning journey both fun and informative! We think you’ll soon agree that National Batik Day fits the bill.

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1. What is Batik Day?

The commemoration of Batik Day in Indonesia is still new; it was stipulated by the President in 2009. This stipulation was enacted once UNESCO officially admitted Indonesian Batik as a world heritage culture. UNESCO includes batik in the List of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The stipulation of National Batik Day is a government effort to increase the Indonesian nation’s dignity and its positive image in international forums, and to grow the pride and love of the society for Indonesian culture.

Batik is a textile coloring technique using wax material. Most of the wax is obtained from the excretion of plants, in the form of damar (coniferous timber) or resin. Animal sources of wax include wasp and bee hives. The only batik coming from Sumatra Island is Minangkabau Batik, in which the coloring technique uses clay. The fabric is first soaked in clay for a week, then it is washed and other natural colors from plants are applied.

Batik Pekalongan has now been recorded by the Guiness Book as the biggest batik. It is made on a fabric 1,000 meters long and worked by 1,000 batik artisans on the main highway of Pekalongan City.

2. When is Batik Day in Indonesia?

Indonesian Child

Each year, Indonesians celebrate Batik Day on October 2.

3. Batik Day Celebrations & Traditions

Batik Fashion Show

On National Batik Day, Indonesia holds various annual batik festivals in several provinces. One of the most famous programs is Festival Batik Solo (Solo Batik Festival) that is in the form of a batik parade on the main street of the city.

This Batik Day Indonesia activity, which began in 2008, had approximately 250 instant models participating, parading a distance of 4.2 kilometers (about two and a half miles) wearing various batik creations. Batik patterns are not only painted on fabrics, but also on everything from tarps, nets, papers, CDs, plastic glasses, balloons, and chicken feathers. Batik Day celebrated in Indonesia is certainly a colorful and intriguing spectacle!

4. What Does Batik Mean?

Do you know the meaning of the word batik?

The word batik comes from the Javanese word amba, which means “writing,” and titik, which means “dot.” In other words, membatik is writing a series of dots to form a beautiful pattern.

5. Essential Vocabulary for Batik Day in Indonesia

Making Something By Hand

Here’s the vocabulary you’re going to need for Batik Day in Indonesia!

  • Hari Batik — “Batik Day”
  • Kebudayaan — “Culture”
  • Malam — “Wax”
  • Karnaval Batik Solo — “Solo Batik Carnival”
  • Pameran batik — “Batik exhibition”
  • Peragaan busana batik — “Batik fashion show”
  • Lomba membatik — “Batik-making contest”
  • Desain — “Design”
  • Kerajinan — “Handicraft”
  • Canting — “Canting”
  • Batik cap — “Batik cap

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, visit our Batik Day vocabulary list. Here, you can find each vocabulary word accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation, and with a relevant image.

How IndonesianPod101 Can Teach You About Indonesian Culture

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Celebrating Indonesian Independence Day

Indonesian Independence Day is the most important holiday in the country, celebrated countrywide and even by Indonesians currently overseas. On Independence Day, Indonesians commemorate the signing and reading of its Declaration of Independence in 1945, freeing it from a long and terrible Dutch colonial period.

Learn about the history of Indonesian Independence day with, and make your language-learning that much more meaningful.

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1. History of Indonesian Independence Day

Indonesia Independence Day is the celebration of when the country’s Declaration of Independence was signed and read in 1945. This text contains a declaration that the islands in the Archipelago unite into one sovereign country, thus rejecting the Dutch colonization.

This Dutch colonization was known at the time as The Dutch East Indies, and it was founded in the early 1800s (though the Dutch actually had influence on what is now Indonesia since about the year 1600).

While this colonization did have a few positive effects on the Indonesian people, such as allowing them to gain market insight, giving them the opportunity to learn a foreign language, and introducing them to new technologies, the overall experience was negative. Indonesians were forced into labor, given poor wages, and many even starved to death. This led to the development of the Indonesian Declaration of Independence, which finally separated Indonesia from its Dutch colonialism.

2. When is Independence Day in Indonesia?

Indonesian Flag

The Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia falls on August 17, the day when Soekarno and Hatta signed and read the Declaration of Independence in 1945.

3. Indonesian Independence Day Celebrations

Having a Sack Race

Independence Day is usually filled with traditional game competitions in villages and cities across the whole archipelago. These activities are meant to establish unity and foster kinship.

The most popular game is panjat pinang (climbing the slippery pole). People jostle to climb the pole, which has been smeared with lubricant, to reach the presents at the top. This game invites laughter, because the participants usually slip and fall onto the participants below.

Similar to panjat pinang, people in Pekalongan, Central Java, have a tradition of not climbing the pole, but walking on it. This tradition is called meniti pucang (walking on pucang or pinang). The pole is positioned horizontally on the river, and the participant who walks on it the longest wins. In this case, the losing participants fall into the river.

Banjar has yet another different tradition. For generations, the residents have upheld the ngubyag balong tradition of catching fish in a pond. Equipped with nets, baskets, and sacks, hundreds of residents get ready to go into the pool. Before the fishing begins, residents and local public figures hold a prayer for the goodness of the Indonesian nation. After that, they go into the pool and scramble to catch the quintal (100 kilograms or about 220 pounds) of free fish in it.

As expects, Indonesians show their pride and love for their country by hoisting the Indonesian flag. And celebrations aren’t limited to those living in Indonesia—Indonesians who are currently overseas can celebrate their country by visiting their embassies around the world.

4. What Else is Indonesia Independence Day Called?

Indonesians have two other popular names for their Independence Day: 17 Agustusan (referring to the holiday’s August 17 date) and Tujuhbelasan, which refers to all activities held in the spirit of celebrating Independence Day.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Indonesian Independence Day

Tumpeng Dish

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Indonesian Independence Day!

  • Televisi — “Television”
  • Hari Proklamasi Kemerdekaan R.I. — “Independence Day”
  • Kembang api — “Firework”
  • Nasi Tumpeng — “Tumpeng”
  • Tarik tambang — “Tug of war”
  • Bendera merah putih — “The red-and-white flag”
  • Lomba panjat pinang — “The pole climbing contest”
  • Lomba balap karung — “Sack race”
  • Lomba makan kerupuk — “Krupuk race-eating contest”
  • Upacara bendera — “Flag-raising ceremony”
  • Hormat! — “Salute!”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Indonesian Independence Day vocabulary list!

Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

We hope you enjoyed learning about Indonesian Independence Day with us, and that you took away something valuable from this lesson. When did Indonesia gain independence, and who did Indonesia gain independence from? Let us know in the comments, and while you’re at it, tell us a little about your own country’s Independence or National day!

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July 23: How to Celebrate Children’s Day in Indonesia

Each year, Indonesia observes National Children’s Day (or more informally, National Kids Day). This is a day for Indonesians to remember the importance and indispensability of children for the country’s future, and the future of the world. Furthermore, Children’s Day is a good time to reflect on education in Indonesia, as well as children’s rights in Indonesia. Another benefit of realizing children’s potential on this day is urging an end to child exploitation in Indonesia.

In learning about National Children’s Day, you’re allowing yourself a better glance at Indonesian culture, family values in Indonesia, and even the family system in Indonesia! Understanding a country’s culture is one of the most important steps in mastering its language, and at, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is National Children’s Day in Indonesia?

National Children’s Day is an important national day that has been commemorated since 1986. National Children’s Day was the idea of the late Soeharto, the second president of the Republic of Indonesia, who regarded children as assets for the nation’s development.

2. When is National Children’s Day in Indonesia?

Little Child Smiling

So, when is Children’s Day? In 1984, the Indonesian Government assigned July 23 as National Children’s Day, and Indonesia still observes it on this date.

3. Reading Practice: How is National Children’s Day Celebrated?

Parents Holding Child

How do Indonesians celebrate their National Children’s Day? Read the Indonesian text below to learn about Children’s Day traditions, and what to expect! You can find the English translation directly below it.

Rangkaian peringatan Hari Anak Nasional biasanya telah dipersiapkan satu tahun sebelumnya oleh segenap komponen bangsa (Kementerian, Lembaga Pemerintah, swasta dan masyarakat) baik di pusat, propinsi, kabupaten/kota dan Perwakilan RI di Luar Negeri. Hal ini menunjukan keseriusan pemerintah dalam membina aset terpenting bangsa, yaitu anak.

Karnaval anak nusantara menjadi kegiatan yang tidak pernah absen dalam peringatan Hari Anak Nasional. Melalui karnaval ini, anak-anak diperkenalkan dengan berbagai suku bangsa dan adat budaya yang hidup di Indonesia. Anak-anak berbaris berpasang-pasangan sambil memperagakan pakaian daerah dari berbagai propinsi. Sementara itu di sisi jalan, penonton berdesakan menonton dan memberi semangat kepada para peragawan cilik. Karnaval ini juga dimeriahkan oleh marching band tingkat TK, tari-tarian tradisional, hingga shalawat rebana.

Festival permainan tradisional juga digelar untuk menghidupkan kembali permainan tradisional di era digital. Walaupun kini akrab dengan permainan digital modern, anak-anak tetap tertarik untuk mencoba berbagai permainan tradisional seperti jamuran, enggrang, gobak sodor, tekongan, dan petak umpet. Jenis-jenis permainan ini menanamkan nilai-nilai kerja sama kepada anak.

Salah satu permainan tradisional adalah lomba sepeda lambat. Berlawanan dengan balap sepeda, siapa yang paling terakhir sampai di garis akhir adalah pemenangnya. Tentu saja peserta yang jatuh di tengah jalan harus gugur.

The events for National Children’s Day commemoration are usually prepared in the preceding year by all segments of the nation (the Ministry, Governmental Institutions, the private sector, and society) at the central, the provincial, the regency/city governmental levels, as well as by the Indonesian Representatives Abroad. This shows the government’s seriousness in fostering the most important asset to the nation, which is children.

The Archipelago Children’s Carnival is never missed in the commemoration of National Children’s Day. Through this carnival, children are introduced to various ethnic groups and indigenous cultures living in Indonesia. The children march in couples exhibiting regional apparel from various provinces. Meanwhile, on the side of the road, the spectators crowd to watch and cheer the junior models. This carnival is also livened up by a kindergarten marching band, and the traditional dances to the Rebana Shalawat performance.

A traditional games festival is also held to revive traditional games in this digital era. Although modern digital games are more familiar, children are also attracted to trying various traditional games, such as jamuran, enggrang (stilts), gobak sodor, tekongan, and petak umpet (hide and seek). These games instill the value of cooperation in children.

One of these traditional games is the slow bicycle race. Unlike a usual bicycle race, whoever reaches the finish line last is the winner. Of course, the participants who fall along the track are dismissed.

4. My Balloon

Do you know what the most popular Indonesian children’s song is?

The answer is the Balonku (My Balloon) song. Here are the lyrics:

I have five balloons / All sorts of colors / Green, yellow, gray / Pink and blue / The green balloon explodes POP! / My heart is very disturbed (or confused) / I have four balloons left / I hold them tight.

5. Useful Vocabulary to Know for Indonesian Children’s Day

Cut-out Figures Under Cut-out Umbrella

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for National Children’s Day in Indonesia!

  • Hadiah — “Present”
  • Pendidikan — “Education”
  • Keluarga — “Family”
  • Hari Anak Nasional — “National Children Day”
  • Orang tua — “Parents”
  • Hak — “Right”
  • Kesejahteraan — “Welfare”
  • Prestasi — “Achievement”
  • Yatim piatu — “Orphan”
  • Eksploitasi — “Exploitation”
  • Kesetaraan — “Equality”
  • Perlombaan — “Contest”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Indonesian National Children’s Day vocabulary list.


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