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5 ways Sarawakians prepare for the Christmas season

Christmas is around the corner! How are your Christmas preparations going on?

In Sarawak, Christmas is not just about having dinner with your loved ones. There are a lot of activities going on around the state this month be it in town or the longhouses. However, lots of activities during this season of joy of means that there is a lot of work going into preparations as well.

So, here are five common ways Sarawakians are preparing for the Christmas season:

It is time to take out the faux Christmas tree to decorate. Credits: Pexels.

1.Cleaning and decorating

We may not have real pine trees to cut down, but we still follow this tradition as we take out the family Christmas tree and start decorating it. 

If you are expecting a lot of guests this holiday, that means this is the period to clean every nook and cranny of your house ahead of 2019.

For those planning to have an ‘open house’ (house visiting), preparing for Christmas also means cleaning, polishing, and counting out your special silverware.

2.Lots and lots of baking

It is a time to bake those Christmas cookies!

Having an ‘open house’ is how Malaysians celebrate most holidays in the country. And this ‘open house’ culture would not be complete without cakes and cookies.

While cookies and cakes are easily available at bakeries and supermarkets, some families prefer to bake their own baked goods.

Being true to our Sarawakian identity, the selection of cakes must include the typical Sarawak layered cake or kek lapis, kek belacan, kek sarang semut and kek lumut.

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Besides cakes and cookies, some even prepare snacks such as keropok and acar as well as peanuts to go with the alcohol.

Speaking of alcohol, some Sarawakians even make their own tuak or burak (rice wine) months prior to the celebration.

3.Organising and planning

If you are celebrating Christmas at the longhouse, then you would know this is the season full of activities.

Taking advantage of the long school holiday from Christmas till New Year, some longhouses would organise various kind of events for all ages.

The usual are sports matches such as futsal, volleyball and badminton. And the fun part? Some longhouses even take the sports up a notch by adding funny twist to it. For instance, men playing football while wearing sarongs.

Then for the children, the adults would organise games like telematches and treasure hunts.

When the night falls, the common activities are children’s beauty pageants, ngajat, karaoke competitions and lucky draw. Sometimes for the fun it, there is Ratu Pondan competition (men competing in cross-dressing to see who makes the most beautiful woman).

All these activities are planned by the longhouse committees weeks before Christmas.

4.Planning the perfect getaway

Meanwhile some families choose the Christmas season as the reason to have a vacation. Hence, preparing for Christmas means booking for flight tickets and accommodation as well as planning those travel itinerary.

5.Spiritual preparation

With about 44% of the Sarawakian population being Christians, preparing for Christmas can take more of a spiritual turn.

There are plenty of activities leading up to the day organised by various churches such as house to house caroling sessions and prayers.

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In major towns in Sarawak like Kuching, Miri and Sibu, thousands of Christians will come together to join in Christmas parades.

The Miri Christmas Parade themed ‘Glory to God’ this year, for example, saw 40,000 people from 15 churches march around Miri city on Dec 8. Although it was the 11th edition, the parade made Sarawak stand out even more as a state that celebrated cultural and religious diversity while the Anti-Icerd rally was coincidentally being held in Kuala Lumpur.

As for the Catholics, they are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Penitential to spiritually prepare themselves before celebrating Christ’s birth.

KajoMag readers, let us know how you prepare for your Christmas celebrations!

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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