Katnip Lounge asked us to blog a bit about Christmas and New Year in Malaysia, so here goes!
I'm not religious so I can only comment on public events. The shopping malls start Christmas decorations in mid to end November. Mind you, I heard the first Christmas carols played in September this year but that was probably because the people in charge of the music liked the tunes but couldn't understand the words!
This year I saw lots of toy displays with a few santas sprinkled over the top. I suspect this is to entice non-Christians into buying toys for their kids.
In Malaysia about half the population is Muslim and the rest are Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Skih, Hindu, animist and other religions, so we're a pretty mixed bunch.
A few years ago (2002? 2003?) some fanatical people complained they were offended by public Christmas decorations. However, when senior politicos pointed out that Christmas is vital for retailers, and that many Malaysians are Christian, these complaints vanished from public view.
This year there wasn't a peep about it here but the disease of intolerance is alive and well in Indonesia where a similar bunch of people tried the same thing in Jakarta.
My friends who are a very mixed bunch all bitch and moan about these fanatics because it damages community relations. We've no idea where this type of sentiment comes from, but we suspect influence from Africa, the Middle East and the Indian continent where extremism is rife.
A report in the newspaper this week said the police arrested over 100 people they suspect of spreading extremist/jihad sentiments. Hopefully they'll get kicked out out the country, and leave us to live together in peace.
Unlike Christmas, everyone celebrates New Year, or Gregorian New Year as it should be called. There are street parties, mall parties, fireworks, and a public count down. The streets are blocked with traffic and people spend hours getting to and from events.
We stay at home and watch the fireworks from upstairs. As we can see two malls and a big stadium, we have primo seats! We'll have a glass of champagne, and the cats will have ham, but for us the best New Year is Chinese New Year. I'll write about that in a month or so when the Year of the Rabbit starts.
For more pics of local Christmas decorations, visit Shannon's blog page.
Happy New Year! May 2011 bring you health, happiness, success and lots of treats!
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