Christmas celebration Among the Kadazandusuns of Sabah, Malaysia
Sabah is one of the 14 states in the Federation of Malaysia. It has about 2.5 million population of diverse multi-ethnic background. the largest ethnic group is the kadazandusun which form about 30% of the population or roughly about 700,000 people. the religious convictions among the people are basically divided into Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism with a small number of people who still practice animism. The Kadazandusun themselves are divided into three religious beliefs, i.e Christianity, Islam and Paganism. Even among the Christians, they are professing a number of Christian denomination. Mostly Roman Catholics but there are others who belong to the Borneo Evangelical Mission (SIB), Seventh-day Adventist (SDA), Anglican, and others.
Here, I would like to share how the Roman Catholics Kadazandusun normally celebrate their Christmas every year. Of course, with the Catholic calendar, it starts with the Advent, 1st week, 2nd Week, 3rd Week and 4th Week of advent. During the advent, most of the RC Kadazandusuns will go to Church every Sundays and would normally observe the Catholic traditions and rituals.
During the advent, the Catholics are not allowed to get married in Church as their tasks during the Month is to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord. Christmas is a big day for the kadazandusun Catholics, and everybody is looking forward to celebrate it. During the month of advent, the choir groups will go around their villages, communities, to spread the good news that the Lord is coming. Among the favorite Christmas carols are " We wish You a Merry Christmas", "Jingle Bells", "Silent Nite" etc, and normally sung in English, Malay and Kadazandusun versions. They will also say prayers during their Caroling visits. the carolers are mostly teenagers, youths, students but would be led by senior Church leaders. The practice is that when the carolers come by, they will be welcomed by the host. the host will contribute money to their "red bag" or "white-can" as a donation or charity to the carol group. depending on the income status of the family, the contribution could be as low as $1 USD to $50USD. Besides the donation, the host will also invite the carollers to join in a "makan" or supper.
Those involved in the Church will also decorate the Church wit Christmas decoration lights, and the construction of the manger is definitely a must. The Church will be cleaned up and the surrounding of the Church will be refurbished. They will also kept in touch with their parish priests, and if there is no priests available, they will rely on their "cathecist". In sabah, the Catholics are still short of priests.
On 24th December, the Catholics will attend the Christmas Eve Mass. Although not all will go as there are many men, fathers, youths will not go, they are fully supportive of their family members who go to Church. Some of them will say "Kirim salam sma Tuhan", which literally means "Convey my regards to God". Or, they will say, "Sambayangan Oku Noh" or "Please Pray For me". Although some will not go to Church, they will make themselves always ready to celebrate.
On 25th December, many will turn up to Church's mass again. After the mass, everybody will greet each other "merry Christmas", "Kotobian Tadau Krismas", "Selamat Hari Krismas". On their way home, they will invite each other to their homes for Christmas party. Everybody will enjoy with various types of foods, drinks, cakes etc. With the family members who come home during Xmas, the family will definitely celebrates more. The only business is "makan & minum" (eat and drink). The favorite drinks among the kadazandusuns are "Siopon" (sipping rice wine from jar with a straw), "lihing" (a permented ricewine served in glass), "talak" (a distilled spirit made from the rice wine, "kinomol" a raw ricewine and there are few more. The most important is to be happy. They say "yang penting bahagia", which means "the most important is to be happy".
On boxing day, may people will get hangover of the drinks the previous night. Some will continue eating and drinkintg in the next few days. Everybody will be normally happy since they could have their family reunions during Christmas. Their parting story would be "Miruba wagu Toun Wagu" means "we'll meet again next Christmas". On boxing day, some outstanding marriage matters would be attended to as they will have their marriage ceremony from 26th onwards. All the holidays and weekends in the next one month will be fully booked for marriage and wedding parties.
Well, that is my sharing about the Christmas celebration among the Kadazandusun Catholics in Sabah, Malaysia. There could be some side stories that I may have missed here, but all in all, the most important matters are covered.
By the Way, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all Christians around the world "Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2006. May the Good Lord will further shepherds us to new greener pastures". Thank you.