New year is only few days away and people around the world are ready to welcome 2019, including Indonesia. Since the beginning of December, people started to decorate their houses, offices, and buildings with Christmas and New Year theme.
But do you know that other than the New Year’s Day from Christian calendar which celebrated every first of January, Indonesia also celebrate three new years? Indonesia has four different new years which require different celebrations as well. More new years mean more holidays for everyone. So what are those four new years? Let’s check it out!
New Year (First of January)
The new year which celebrated every first day of January is the most celebrated new year around the world because it comes from Gregorian calendar which is the internationally standardized calendar. It means every country uses this calendar as the official calendar, including Indonesia.
In Indonesia, usually people gather in town square and shoot fireworks when the clock approaches midnight. There are also some events and concerts held to celebrate the new year. If you are planning to spend your new year holiday in Indonesia, you can come to famous annual events such as Borobudur Nite and Denpasar Festival.
Those two annual events provide different ways to welcome new year. In Borobudur Nite you can watch concert from Indonesian singers with Borobudur Temple as the background on new year eve. When the first day of new year comes you can release colorful lanterns to the sky along with your wishes for the new year. Different from Borobudur Nite, Denpasar Festival provides you culinary market from 28 until 31 December every year.
Hijri New Year (Tahun Baru Hijriah)
Indonesia is famous for its large Muslim population. Islam has its own calendar called hijri calendar. The calendar is used to decide important days for the religion such as Eid Al-Fitr, Eid Al-Adha, and new year. While the Gregorian calendar uses sun movement as its basic calculation, the Hijri calendar uses lunar movement as its basic calculation.
The first day of Hijri Year in 2019 falls on 30 of August. To celebrate the Hijri New Year or Islamic New Year usually people hold convoy around the city bringing torch. Kraton Yogyakarta has its own tradition called Mubeng Benteng which means circling around the castle in English. The tradition is open for everyone who wants to walk around the castle of Kraton Yogyakarta on the new year eve of Hijri calendar as a symbol of reflection and self-introspection. Everyone who participate in this ritual is prevented from talking, eating, drinking, and smoking for the whole night.
Chinese New Year (Tahun Baru Imlek)
China has developed its civilization since a long time ago. One of its legacy is the Chinese calendar which is used widely around the world. The Chinese calendar is not only used in China, but also used by Chinese descents and diasporas, including Indonesia. Chinese ethnic accounts for about 3% of population in Indonesia.
The Chinese New Year, called as Tahun Baru Imlek in Indonesian language, was not admitted officially as national holiday until 2003. Under the dictatorship of Soeharto, people could not celebrate Chinese New Year publicly for over 30 years because of the discriminatory law. The law was revoked by President Gus Dur in 2000 which allow Chinese ethnics to pray and celebrate Chinese New Year publicly. Then in 2003, under the instruction of President Megawati Chinese New Year or Tahun Baru Imlek officially became national holiday.
The first day of Chinese calendar begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February in Gregorian calendar. In 2019, the Chinese New Year falls on 5 of February. Since it can be celebrated publicly, the celebration of Tahun Baru Imlek can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of the religion and ethnicity.
To welcome Chinese New Year, people mostly decorate their houses and building with red color. Chinese people believe that red color brings luck. People also celebrate it by hosting a lion dance or barongsai in public space.
Nyepi/Saka New Year (Tahun Baru Saka)
Have you ever heard of Bali? Yes, the one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Bali is the province in Indonesia that hold the most massive celebration of Nyepi. It does not mean there is no celebration in other parts of Indonesia, but the celebration of Nyepi in Bali is different.
Bali is the province where Hindu people take place as the largest population. So some of the regulation and rules in that province was formed with consideration of Hindu values, including the celebration of Nyepi/Saka New Year. The day of Nyepi marks the first day of Saka Year according to Balinese Saka Calendar.
Nyepi derives from Indonesian word ‘Sepi’ which means quiet. On this day, like its name, the whole island of Bali becomes totally quiet. All the public services, except for hospital, are closed for the whole day, including the airport. The government also shut down the electricity in the island, except for hospital. It’s like blackout for 24 hours in the island. But thanks to Nyepi people can see the stars clearly for one night without any tools. If you are planning to have kind of healing trip to avoid the busy world, Nyepi day is perfect for you. But make sure to come before the Nyepi day, because airport is closed for that whole day. In 2019 Nyepi day will take place from 7-8 March.
By Ilham Mubarok, ASEAN Correspondent from Indonesia