Gauss-Advent Calender: Selamat Hari Natal! – Christmas in Malaysia
by Hui Lin Kong
The idealistic image of having a white Christmas with snow layering on the streets, drinking wine and roasting nuts on an open fire doesn’t exist in Malaysia. With the average temperature ranging from 26°C to a high of 33 °C throughout the whole year, this festive season in Malaysia is more likely to be filled with warmth, sunshine and excitement as it is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Malaysia. In addition, it is also very looked upon as a public holiday.
How do we get into the festive spirit in Malaysia? As Christmas approaches, major shopping malls put in a lot of effort in decorating every corner of the malls with gigantic Christmas trees, glittery lights and vibrant shining balls. The scent of Christmas wafting in the air are sometimes man-made whereby the mall will try having fake snow falling inside the malls, trying to outdo their competitors. Santa Claus with their signature red hat wandering inside the malls, carol groups, stage performance and live musical bands are always the reasons why we flock to shopping malls during Christmas.
When the clock strikes twelve on the Christmas Eve, tons of fireworks will light up the sky. As always, everyone including the Malays, Chinese and Indians will enjoy the magnificent firework show together. Early sleep? The lights and crackle are too nice to miss!
Christmas dinners or parties at restaurants and bars are however mainly for the young people as the Christian community is the minority here. There are even some debates on the Christmas celebrations and festivities in this predominantly Muslims country in the early days. However, it is now well enjoyed by everyone. We embrace the festive spirit and celebrate together as one.
It is also popular to spend your Christmas by visiting the islands in Malaysia. Many hotels and resorts are fully booked during this period, maybe not this year due to the Pandemic, but escaping from the hustle of the busy city is always a good idea. The resorts will usually offer Christmas live showcases and delicious food, after you have a wonderful day diving in the tranquil seas or after some jungle hiking.
Like any other occasions such as Chinese New Year and the festival of Eid, we as Malaysians celebrate Christmas with everyone, no matter who they are. Christmas is not exclusively for Christians in Malaysia, but rather well accepted by all in their own way without disrespecting any other religions.
For me personally, the Christmas experience in Germany is totally different mainly due to the Christmas markets and the snow. Drinking hot mulled wine in cold winter while enjoying the beautiful decorations and lights is totally a big must!