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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!

Learning a new language is a difficult task, but at IndonesianPod101, we believe that you really can master Indonesian. And we’ll be here with help and encouragement on each step of your language-learning journey!

Happy Heroes’ Day, Indonesia!

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Indonesian Body Language from Head to Toe


Have you ever seen those articles or vlogs that say things like “10 Things NEVER to do in Indonesia!”

The ones with a big red X over a surprised-looking foreigner in the thumbnail?

They kind of scare you, don’t they?

You might worry that if there are so many things you can’t do in a foreign country, you might have to walk on eggshells to avoid offending people. What if you screw up with your Indonesian body language and make them dislike you?

Well, that’s well out of the equation.

Indonesians are extremely forgiving to people who accidentally commit some kind of cultural faux pas.

And instead of a list of warnings, here’s a guide to the kind of Indonesian body language and body gestures you can expect to see and should take note of to use yourself.

One quick read-through and you’ll have a great idea of the underlying cultural etiquette that dictates what’s acceptable and what’s a little bit rude.

Without further ado,’s guide to body gestures, customs, and etiquette in Indonesia! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Indonesian Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. Indonesian Body Gestures from Head to Toe
  2. Conclusion

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1. Indonesian Body Gestures from Head to Toe

1- Your Head and Face

Smiling Woman

1. Hair

Let’s start with the hair. You’ll quickly notice that a lot of young men take pride in their haircuts—in fact, there seems to be old-fashioned barber shops on every main street.

This is part of the underlying cultural tendency toward cleanliness that you’ll pick up on. Don’t let your hair get greasy or unkempt, and don’t fiddle with your hair or constantly run your fingers through it.

It’s also seen as slightly rude to scratch your head in public.

2. Smiling & Laughing

Furthermore, Indonesians love to smile. I think the nickname “land of smiles” for Bali exists in several languages.

These days, however, many Indonesian women will cover their mouths when smiling or laughing. There are two reasons for that. First, it’s still a part of Indonesian culture for women to appear more “refined” or “demure.” This cultural habit is also reinforced and popularized by Japan and Korea, where pop and TV stars will generally do the same thing for the same reason.

3. Eye Contact in Indonesian Culture

Eye contact is an important body gesture in Indonesian communication and culture. Avoiding eye contact is a sign of embarrassment, just like it is in the West. However, in period films or TV shows, you’ll notice that everybody seems to be avoiding eye contact. Why is that?

Traditional Javanese society was heavily stratified socially. It was imperative that one avoided eye contact with one’s superiors, whether that be the patriarch of the family or a village leader.

It’s not really expected these days, but if you happen to go to a more rural area, it’s polite to avert your gaze if your host is saying something important.

4. Eating

Unlike in some neighboring countries, it’s considered rude in Indonesia to eat loudly or talk with your mouth full. You shouldn’t spit on the street either.

2- Your Hands

Indonesian Gestures

1. Right vs. Left Hand

Knowing when to use your left or right hand is an essential aspect of body gesture in Indonesian culture to understand. The basic rule to remember is that the right hand comes first. This is because, as in many other Islam-influenced countries, the left hand is associated with cleaning the body, and it’s therefore considered rude to offer your unclean left hand to others when giving or receiving things.

2. Shaking Hands

One of the most common hand gestures in Indonesian culture is the hand shake. When you greet somebody and shake hands, briefly press your right palm to your heart afterward.

Although Indonesian culture is strongly influenced by Islam, it’s much more acceptable for men and women to shake hands than it is in some more-conservative Islamic cultures.

Handshakes, however, tend to be considerably more gentle across the board than they are in the West.

3. Walking in Front of Someone

This one of the more interesting body gestures among Indonesian people, though it shouldn’t be totally unfamiliar to you.

When you walk in front of somebody, you should bend over slightly and extend your right hand down with the palm facing them.

Think of the gesture associated with “after you” in the West, like when inviting somebody to take a seat or go ahead in line. The only difference is that you do it in motion, holding this gesture constant while you walk.

4. The Peace Sign

Korean culture is pretty trendy these days in Indonesia, as I mentioned. What does that have to do with body language? Well, if you find yourself in a group picture, the two-finger peace sign is practically guaranteed to come out.

3- Your Arms

Woman with Crossed Arms

1. Displays of Anger or Frustration

Indonesians tend to avoid public displays of anger or frustration. Doing things like swinging your arms when you’re impatient or hitting a desk when you’re upset are strongly frowned upon, and it’s very rare to see native Indonesians doing so. You’ll likely be kept waiting quite frequently, to be honest, but simply do as the locals do and sit quietly.

2. Man-to-Man Physical Affection

Physical affection between men in the form of handholding or hugging is far more common than it is in the West, though people who have visited other majority-Islam countries won’t be surprised by this.

It’s not unusual to see a man sitting with his arm around the shoulders of a male friend. However, a hearty slap on the back is frowned upon as too aggressive.

3. Indicating Where Something is (Nearby)

There’s a particular way of showing somebody the way toward something that may be unique to Indonesia. You bend over a little, keep your arm bent, and give a thumbs-up, pointing your thumb in the direction that you want the person to go. Interestingly enough, this only tends to apply to short distances.

If you’re saying that the airport is ten kilometers in such-and-such a direction, go ahead and use the whole hand.

4. Forehead to Hand of Superior

Oh, and here’s another one of the unfamiliar body gestures in Indonesian society you may see: When Javanese people greet one another in a formal setting, the person of lower social status is expected to briefly touch their forehead to the back of their superior’s hand.

In the past, this was a kiss, but these days just touching the forehead is faster and a little more sanitary.

4- Your Legs and Feet

Many Pairs of Legs

1. No Shorts

Although Indonesian weather can be brutally hot at times, you’ll practically never see locals wearing shorts. From experience, you really can get used to it even if it seems like a nightmare to wear heavy jeans in 35-degree C (95-degree F) weather.

2. Taking Off Your Shoes

Many Indonesian houses and guesthouses (known as kos) have beautiful and clean tiled floors. For that reason, there’s usually a small sign at the entrance reading Lepas sepatu! which means “Take off your shoes!” And underneath the sign, there will be a jumbled heap of shoes. Take a look inside, though, at what people are doing.

It’s part of Muslim culture to wash the feet regularly throughout the day, and thus people often go completely barefoot inside these houses (and even on the street!). It’s quite something to see how fast native Indonesians take off and put on their shoes and sandals—it’s a totally unconscious action.

In general, you should take off your shoes when they’re going to touch anything that’s not a public floor. That even includes if you need to stand on a chair to reach something in your school or office!

3. Crossed Legs in Indonesian Language

There’s no stigma against leg-crossing in Indonesia. Men and women alike cross or uncross their legs as comfort dictates, unlike in some countries where a man crossing his legs is seen as feminine. Women do tend to ride motorcycles sidesaddle, especially if they’re wearing a long dress or robe.

5- Gestures While Talking

Business Meeting

On the whole, there really isn’t any big and notable body language in Indonesians’ talking. There’s nothing like the stereotypical Indian head nod, or the Japanese bow.

However, if you spend enough time hanging out with Indonesians, you’ll probably notice that you subconsciously pick up a certain way of holding yourself as you speak.

For example, when you say the phrase Oh, begitu! meaning “Oh, I see!” you’ll tend to raise your head up a little and lean back.

And when you say Iya, meaning “yes,” you might duck your head forward a bit as if you were nodding and bowing at the same time. Especially if you’re talking to someone who’s a little bit higher up on the respect ladder than you, such as an immigration official or a professor.

Lastly, it’s fairly rude in most countries to point at someone or shake your finger while talking, but in Indonesia, the raised index finger while speaking means “I have a point to make.” If you use it too much, you’ll come across as a little bit bossy, though it’s fine to use in an animated discussion.

6- Gestures While Driving

Woman Leaning Out of Car

It’s very easy and affordable for foreigners to rent motorbikes in Indonesia. If and when you do so, you should be aware of a couple of common hand signals, because nobody will tell you these when you start driving.

1. Traffic Directors

At smaller intersections in smaller cities, volunteers don orange vests, wave their hands, and furiously blow whistles to direct the flow of traffic. Their actual techniques vary from person to person, though you’ll get the idea from watching which drivers are stopped and which are going.

If you’re first in line, watch for the wheeling arm motion; this means you get to go ahead. A hand held out, palm down, means “stop.” It’s customary to give these folks a small tip if they give you any particular attention, like clearing the way for you to do a U-turn.

2. On a Motorbike

Now, when you find yourself riding on the back of a motorbike, you have the unique duty of reinforcing the turn indicator. When your driver wants to make a turn, look around and make eye contact with drivers nearby, and lazily wave your arm in the direction of your intended turn.

Don’t stick your hand out straight as you would riding a bicycle, but instead keep your arm moving so that the movement catches the eye of other drivers.

3. Middle Finger

By the way, there’s another “gesture while driving” that you may have already thought of.

Most Indonesian drivers aren’t very aggressive, though they do tend to play fast and loose with traffic rules. It’s considered very rude and even strange to actually get angry in public, so flipping someone the bird because of their driving is considered significantly more rude than in many Western countries.

7- Personal Space in Indonesia

Woman Sitting Alone

Depending on where you come from, you may feel either anxious and relaxed reading this: Indonesians deeply respect personal space.

At offices and banks, people wait in line with a respectable amount of distance between each person. It’s extremely rare for anyone to cut in line, and if you do so, you’ll likely get a polite but firm verbal request to head to the back.

To get someone’s attention in public, it’s actually pretty rare to reach out and tap them on the shoulder. Sometimes, if it’s really urgent, you may feel a small tug on your shirt, but for the most part, people will just call out to you and wait for you to turn around. Remember, Indonesian culture is patient!


An overarching theme of this article is that you’ve really got nothing to worry about. As long as you’re respectful and observant—and after all, what language-lover isn’t?—you’ll handle these cultural footnotes beautifully.

Simply keep the basics in mind:

  • Respect personal space
  • Use the right hand
  • Be deferential to others in respected societal roles

The body language will come naturally.

And when it does, you’ll earn people’s respect. It’ll be a subtle kind of respect, one that doesn’t show up in compliments—how many times have you complimented a foreigner on their body language ability? Rather, this respect means that others will simply enjoy being around you more.

That kind of cultural competence can’t be taught or really even consciously learned. But when you realize one day that you’re doing things just like locals are, you’ll know you’ve made it. And will be here with you every step of the way.

So, readers, are body language cues and etiquette similar in your own country, or very different? Let us know in the comments! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Indonesian Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

How to Get an Indonesian Visa and Find Jobs in Indonesia


Living and working in Indonesia—could it be a dream come true?

You’ve got an incredible blend of vibrant cultures all around you. You’ve got the world’s best beaches, towering volcanoes, and pristine forests. You’ve got an attractive expat salary package in a country with a very low cost of living.

You’ve got it made.

You just have to get there.

Unfortunately, Indonesia is one of the hardest Asian countries to find a job in, even with an Indonesia visa. The government’s strategy to reduce unemployment is to place heavy restrictions on expat workers, and that severely limits the opportunities available in every sector.

In this article, we’ll walk you through just what these restrictions are and what you can do to maximize your chances of jumping through all those hoops—and making that dream a reality. Without further ado, our guide on how to find jobs in Indonesia. Start with a bonus, and download the Business Words & Phrases PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. The Job Situation in Indonesia
  2. How to Find Teaching Jobs
  3. How to Find Other Jobs When Living in Indonesia
  4. Do You Need to Speak the Language?
  5. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

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1. The Job Situation in Indonesia

Indonesian jobs

First, here’s some background info about the job market in Indonesia to help set the stage.

Indonesia is, as you likely know, a developing country. Much of the population lives in relatively rural areas, and even the big cities have enormous sprawling areas of lower-income districts. Unemployment is relatively high, and gainful employment is tough to attain for ordinary locals.

One of the solutions, from the government’s perspective, is to limit the number of foreigners occupying positions that Indonesians could otherwise hold. Foreign nationals employed in Indonesia are required to be experts in their field; that is, holders of a university degree and with five years’ experience or a title showing their high place on the corporate ladder.

On top of that, businesses are taxed US$100 per month per foreigner hired, which is an astonishing sum in many cities. Most businesses that would otherwise gladly hire foreigners don’t clear this hurdle. That money, by the way, goes straight to the Manpower Department, where it’s invested in job training so locals can learn how to do your job.

And to make things more complicated, the visa approval process is designed to last months, further cutting down the pool of foreigners to only those who are both patient and well-off enough to survive this trial. Oh, and all of that vocabulary is all in Indonesian, of course.

With that in mind, where can you turn?

For many, the classroom.

2. How to Find Teaching Jobs

Woman Helping Children with Assignment

Teaching English in Indonesia is big, and other languages such as Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic aren’t terribly far behind. Even Dutch is more popular here than in many other countries because of the colonial ties with The Netherlands.

It’s possible for native speakers of any of these languages to find a job teaching in any large city. One potential contact is your country’s consulate or embassy, as they often run language classes and cultural events.

The good news is that native speaker teachers with certificates automatically qualify as foreign experts—you don’t need to be an award-winning educator or anything like that.

Outside of English teacher jobs in Indonesia, your best bet is to contact university language departments. Even smaller universities will have departments of European and Asian languages, and they may be looking for full- or part-time lecturers.

There are also several international schools in larger cities that provide education for all subjects in English. So a native speaker who can teach math or biology is also likely to have a fighting chance.

But one thing you’ll have to decide pretty early on in your job search in Indonesia is how by-the-book you want to do things. It’s not particularly complicated to get an extendable tourist visa, though it does require renewal every month for four months.

These visas aren’t valid for employment, but that won’t stop many schools from hiring you. That means you do have the opportunity to teach part-time and be paid under-the-table for your work.

However, that comes with the real risk of fines, deportation, and even jail time if you’re caught. Some people get away with this for years, and others are busted and face serious consequences.

Finding a job for foreigners in Indonesia that will sponsor a work visa is significantly more difficult, and frankly, nearly impossible in smaller cities if you don’t have a local contact. Networking is absolutely key to your success as you go job hunting in Indonesia.

You’ll need to frequently scour ESL job boards, look at other job postings in Indonesia, and perhaps even contact a recruiter to help you get placed. And to set yourself apart, it’s necessary to have professional certification from an accredited training program; those 40-hour short courses won’t cut it. Other teaching experience in Asia is definitely a plus.

Two of the best job boards with Indonesian sections are Go Overseas and Teach Away. You’ll notice that the Indonesian sections aren’t very big compared to, say, Thailand or China.

Keep your eye on these boards and make a point of applying to all the jobs that you’re even slightly interested in.

Send follow-up emails and thank your interviewers for their time. Do all the “good interviewee” things, in short, because these opportunities are slim.

3. How to Find Other Jobs When Living in Indonesia

Job interview phrases

So teaching isn’t for you. Not a problem!

If your end goal is simply working in Indonesia, the easiest way by far is to get a position with a firm based in your country that does business in Indonesia.

It will probably take some time before you’re actually placed there, but it’s a lifesaver to have other people in charge of arranging the actual work placement. The benefit of having a familiar culture to relate to can’t be overstated either—it’s easy to feel isolated in another country, even one as friendly and open as Indonesia is known to be.

Without that kind of stepping stone, it’s going to be harder to find work in Indonesia for a few reasons:

  • First, Indonesia isn’t the type of society where people can easily post and access information like job openings. That’s done in a much more word-of-mouth way than you’d expect. Essentially, job sites in Indonesia may not be the easiest place to look for work.
  • On the flip side, though, once people know you’re qualified and looking for a job, they may pass on your resume to interested parties.
  • Another difficulty is simply that the expected salary difference for locals and expats is usually pretty high. And even putting aside the salary question, you’re going to have to be trained in the local way of doing things, translating to an extra burden that doesn’t exist with a local.

All that means is that you need to stand out.

Woman in Red Surrounding by People in Black

Whatever niche you have, work like crazy to make your experience shine. If you have enough time to prepare, getting additional accreditation or certificates bumps you ahead of the other candidates. Those will be perfect for when you need to prove your expertise to the visa office.

The number-one most helpful thing in getting a job in Indonesia is connections. Is there anyone at all you know who can vouch for you or put your name in somewhere? A glowing personal reference (or two or three) goes extremely far.

Naturally, there are a number of job websites devoted specifically to Indonesia. Karir and JobStreet are two of the largest and best-known.

On both of them, you can search for jobs looking for foreign talent, as well as jobs only in English. Just skim through the job postings in Indonesia to find what you’re looking for. But that language question can be pretty thorny…

4. Do You Need to Speak the Language?

Business phrases

This is a big consideration whenever you’re thinking about moving abroad: What impact will my language skills have on my life there?

It’s no secret that a lot of Westerners living in Asian countries never end up picking up much of the local language. It’s easy to surround yourself in an English bubble anywhere. It takes a certain mindset shift to accept the bumpiness of actually using a language while you’re still a learner. Even simple stuff like just talking about your job in Indonesian can be a surprising hurdle.

As always, the answer is going to be different depending on where you end up. The more developed the city, and the younger the people you’re working with, the better the chance is that you can accomplish everything you need in English.

Outside your work, it’s relatively rare to have truly fluent English speakers in customer service roles that aren’t directly associated with the tourist industry. A Starbucks next to a hotel? English is a good bet. A mini-mart near a university? Try your luck and see what happens. A shack selling fried squid on the side of the road? Better stick to body language.


Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

My point earlier about needing a standout quality as a foreigner is a perfect reason for you to invest some serious time into learning Indonesian. The more you can show that you’re committed to treating your new country with respect, the more you’ll be accepted as a potential candidate. And besides, nailing an Indonesian job interview is an amazing feeling.

You’ll also need to take a look at your current qualifications and experience in your field. How much do you excel? Why should a company hire you and train you all about Indonesian work culture, when they can hire a local for much less?

Whether or not you’re thinking of a job in the ESL industry, having some real qualifications (such as professional certificates) will go a long way. Even better if you can show that you’ve got experience working somewhere in Southeast Asia, or that you have experience adapting to unfamiliar cultures.

With all that in mind, and with a strong attitude of perseverance, you’ll have that job in Indonesia before you know it.

And will be here for you every step of the way, with insightful blog posts, podcasts, and free vocabulary lists to help you improve your Indonesian skills. By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can even take advantage of having your own personal Indonesian teacher with our MyTeacher program!

Do you plan on working in Indonesia soon, or know someone who does? What’s the most valuable thing you learned from this article? Let us know in the comments!

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Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian

How to Say Merry Christmas in Indonesian

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian? IndonesianPod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Indonesian Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Indonesian speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, IndonesianPod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Indonesia
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Indonesia

Christmas Words in Indonesian

Christmas, or the birthday of Jesus Christ, is celebrated on December 25 in almost all parts of the world, including Indonesia. The tradition of putting up a Christmas tree, decorating the house, pilgrimages to ancestral graves, and visiting family are all traditions commonly observed by Christians all over Indonesia.

Let’s talk about the massive Christmas celebrations in the province with a Christian-majority population. The North Sulawesi province.

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-

What percentage of the Indonesian population celebrates Christmas?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. So, keep reading.

During the month of December, the government of Manado City in North Sulawesi holds a Christmas safari, or Safari Natal. During the Christmas safari, they visit different cities to have meet-and-greet events and worship with members of the community. As preparation for Christmas, residents of Manado also parade through the city and carry out the tradition of visiting family graves, in Indonesian called ziarah, in which family graves are cleaned and decorated with Christmas lights. Christmas festivities end in the first week of January with the Kunci Taon tradition, in which people parade around town wearing funny, socially themed costumes, or in Indonesian, kostum.

In South Sulawesi, in the area of Toraja, local authorities hold Lovely December, an annual festival of culture and tourism. The event starts at the beginning of December and is characterized by the slaughter of spotted buffalo, or kerbau. This series of festivals includes a carnival, a Christmas bazaar, buffalo contests, artistic performances, exhibitions, handicrafts, and culinary exhibitions. The festival culminates on December 26 with a procession called lettoan, a parade contest of pigs dressed with Toraja Tribe cultural symbols.

In Kampung Tugu, an area located in Jakarta, the locals perform Rabo-rabo, a tradition passed down from soldiers of Portuguese descent who settled in Jakarta. Not exactly on Christmas Day, but right at the beginning of the year, residents will visit homes singing songs in keroncong, a music genre that originates from Portuguese music. The songs sung are Christmas songs, but what is unique is that those who are visited will usually join in the singing and accompany the singers to the next house.

Sending parcels, or hantaran, is a tradition of the Indonesian people in times of celebration. During the time of Eid, Muslims traditionally send diamond-shaped packed rice to neighbors. Around Christmas time, Christians return the gift by sending parcels in the form of pastries.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

What percentage of the Indonesian population celebrates Christmas?

Around ten percent of Indonesia’s population is Christian. Thus, there are only a few places that hold big celebrations.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

Selamat hari Natal!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

Selamat Kwanzaa!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

Selamat Tahun Baru, semoga bahagia selalu!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

Selamat Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

Selamat berliburan musim dingin!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

Sampai jumpa tahun depan!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

Salam hangat!

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Indonesian Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

Selamat liburan!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Indonesian, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

Nikmatilah liburan!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

Semoga sukses di tahun yang baru!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Indonesian! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At IndonesianPod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

Hari Natal

This is the Indonesian word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Indonesian will include this word!

2- Snow


In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

bunga salju

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

manusia salju

As you guessed - a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey


Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

rangkaian bunga bundar

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

rusa kutub

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus


Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf


An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph si rusa kutub berhidung merah

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

Kutub Utara

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

kereta luncur

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present


Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell


On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

cerobong asap

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace


In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

Hari Natal

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration


Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking


According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly


Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

rumah gingerbread

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

permen tongkat

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe


Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Indonesian, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Indonesian! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

6. IndonesianPod101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

Visit IndonesianPod101!

We don’t just say this - we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From Indonesian for Absolute Beginners to Advanced Indonesian, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, IndonesianPod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct Indonesian. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in IndonesianPod101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!

Your Learning, Streamlined – The New Lesson Interface

Click Here to Get Your All Access Pass at IndonesianPod101

Your Learning, Streamlined – The New Lesson Interface

Your learning is about to get a whole lot easier.

More than ever, learners are choosing mobile as the platform to study Indonesian. Mobile has always been a part of our DNA. We began our life on your iPod, and have remained by your side ever since.

In our 11th year, we’re returning to our roots as a way to learn Indonesian on-the-go. How? With a brand-new lesson interface just for you.

Hint: It will launch in beta later this month!

If you want to secure access to this brand new upgrade, take advantage of the upcoming All Access Pass Sale! Click Here to Get 25% OFF All IndonesianPod101 Subscriptions!

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It’s built from the ground-up to be a great experience on your phone, tablet, and computer.

You don’t have to compromise anymore.

Take the whole lesson experience with you wherever you go.

Our lessons are the heart of our learning system and now they’re the heart of the interface as well. Just tap the big play button to start learning right away.

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As you scroll through the lesson contents, the player sticks with you at the bottom of your screen.

Pause, rewind or adjust your speed and volume without losing your place.

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Navigation is also just a tap away.

Quickly jump to the dialogue, vocabulary, or lesson notes with our new lesson navigation bar. Available at the top of your screen wherever you are.

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And for the first time ever, you don’t need to download a PDF or jump between tabs to read the lesson notes and transcript. Read it all on your mobile browser as you listen.

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There are many more small improvements but the end result is this: a drastically improved lesson experience on mobile and desktop.

Spend less time squinting at your screen and more time reaching your Indonesian goals.

The new lesson interface will launch in beta this month.

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Keep on studying!

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Team IndonesianPod101

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IndonesianPod101 Free Lifetime Account: Is it really free?

You want to learn Indonesian but you don’t want to spend a cent. You don’t want to lose time creating an account if they ask you for your credit card just after. For you Indonesian learner, we tell you how you will access great resources for free for life and without card or having to pay. This is your unique path to fluency for free.

free lifetime account indonesianpod101 benefit

IndonesianPod101 is not really free, is it?
Although there are paid plans, yes, it is FREE. Every single lesson that we have ever created has been free for a certain period of time. And every new audio and video lesson (we publish 3-5 lessons a week) is completely free to access for 3 weeks before going into our lesson library.

What’s a Free Lifetime Account?
A Free Lifetime Account is – simply put – a free membership at IndonesianPod101.

What do I get with this Free Account? How can I learn for free for life?
Here’s how you learn every day without paying a cent at IndonesianPod101. You have access to all of these features for life:

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  • The Innovative Language 101 App for the Android, iPhone and iPad
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    Start speaking Indonesian now!

    Do I need a credit card to sign up?
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  • Introducing Our Brand New Dashboard!

    Hey Listeners!

    Guess what? Your language learning goals just got a little easier!

    As you’ve probably realized by now, there have been some major improvements made to your dashboard! These updates have been designed to improve your overall experience with the website and help keep you organized and on-track! Here are a few of the changes:

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    Stay tuned, as more updates are being rolled out later in the month!

    Enjoy your new dashboard,

    Team IndonesianPod101

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    As you may have noticed, on the left side of your dashboard is our My Teacher feature. This tool allows you to have 1-on-1 interaction with your very own personal teacher! This is only available to our Premium Plus subscribers, so be sure to upgrade if you want to take your studies to the next level!

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    This may be one of the most rewarding parts of learning a new language. You’ll be able to get to know speakers of other languages on a more personal level. Meeting people from around the world is one of the main reasons people begin to study a language, so don’t ever feel like making new friends isn’t a good enough reason to start studying!

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    Greetings Listener!

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