You might think that a Bali Christmas is limited to Christian ex-pats and tourists from places like Australia and the Philippines. But it’s not just surfing Santas and cultural imperialism, though there’s a bit of that too.
Bali is home to some traditionally Catholic enclaves, including Tuka village, where local Catholics live in harmony with their Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist neighbors.
A resident of Tuka describes a typical Bali Christmas in the Jakarta Post:
We adopt Balinese traditional decorations, such as penjor, long bamboo poles adorned with young coconut leaves and other ornaments, which will be placed at the church’s gate.
We have collected money to donate to orphans, the elderly and the needy, regardless their religious background.
The tradition of tolerance and respect has been going on for decades. We usually celebrate Christmas and New Year with all our neighbors.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Bali Christmas is also a bit different on the popular Kota Beach, where a Filipino beer company has erected “Bali’s largest Christmas tree”.
From the Inquirer (Philippines):
With the Christmas tree as the centerpiece, holiday merrymaking at Kota Beach included a blood-letting activity, beach cleanup and singing of Christmas carols by schoolchildren.
After the Christmas season, the empty cans from the tree will be sold to help fund the activities of the surrounding community.
I love how a “blood-letting activity” was just casually inserted into a Bali Christmas article along side a beach cleanup and kids singing carols. I think I’d like a bit more explanation about the blood-letting activity, but no, I’ll just have to leave it to my imagination. Actually I think in the Philippines donating blood is sometimes referred to as blood-letting or bloodletting, so it’s all in the spirit of giving, though I still wouldn’t classify that as “holiday merrymaking, but that’s just me.