Batak And New Year’s Eve Tradition

Posted by binsar on 04 Dec 2007 at 04:56 pm | Tagged as: About Me, Experience, Reflection

There is little chance that you will find a Batak (a tribe in North Sumatera, Indonesia – me too) anywhere in the world, partying and hanging around with friends during new year’s eve. I can hardly remember when was the last time I have fun with friends during new year’s eve. Probably never.

We have an unwritten tradition, for every Christian Batak, to gather with family during the change of the year. Gathering with family does not mean your own nuclear family, this means gathering with your extended family. We will have a small prayer and reading the bible together exactly at the 00.00 o’clock. During the small prayer, we will have a chance to say something – some words – could be words of appreciation of what had happened or apologizing for the things that went wrong during the previous year. All of the family members usually have their turns to say what they want to say. Then we will, in turn, apologize each other for what had happened the previous year. The idea is to start the new year with a fresh heart and a prayer. Then afterwards we will commit the first sin of the year, drinking and poker gambling hahaha…. (just kidding).

Story passes that this was done on New Year’s eve instead of Christmas eve because that was the time of the school’s holiday in Indonesia. As the biggest Moslem populated nation, we don’t get much holidays for Christmas in public schools, but we do have them in New Year as the end of the semester. So, during holiday, people that went to another city for a living would occasionally came back to their home town to celebrate new year’s with their parents and families. So, this was a time of festive, happiness around family, time to see each other again. For people who are living in big cities, they will gather in their oldest brother/sister’s house. For instance, my dad has one younger brother, and a cousin living in Jakarta, so they would come and celebrate new year’s with us. Usually, we will have around 4-5 families celebrating new year together at my parent’s house. They will bring their children as well. So, it is quite crowded. In 2004, when I was still in Amsterdam doing my Master’s course, my parents came to visit me and stayed at my place. Guess what, we stayed home during new year’s eve to do the ‘ritual’ hahaha.

Personally, I think it is a good tradition. I think we should start the new year with people whom we loved along with prayers and forgiveness of our past mistakes. This is one of the traditions that brings families closer and being open about their past and feelings. I wouldn’t mind missing the party outside to be with my family.

I remember this one special new year’s eve, I think it was in late 1996, when I was still in high school. My dad was in prison at that time because of the trade union he established in Indonesia, and Soeharto regime accused him of bringing reformation ideas and being the man behind the 27th July 1996 riot in Jakarta. Because of this, many of our family members were afraid of being in contact with us, some of them were threaten to loose their jobs if they were to be seen with the family. That new year’s eve, I had a gig with my highschool band at a new year’s party somewhere in Jakarta. I rushed home at 23.30, when the band was still performing, just to get home because I know my mom would be very sad if I’m not there. It was a very sad night because that was the first time we celebrate our new year’s without my dad nor other family members. There were only the four of us, my mom, me, my brother, and my sister. We read the scripture and prayed together. There were tears. I am so happy that I came home that night and left the gig behind. That was the saddest new year ever, let alone the most lonely one. That night changed my whole perspectives on who are the people that you should call your brothers or sisters. But, that was a long time ago.

This new year is going to be different. My parents wont come to Amsterdam and I am planning to go out of town. But I guess it would be lovely to gather with the special ones during New Year’s eve and pray together. As the new year approaches, I do miss my dad’s help requests and discussions, my mom’s complain about everything and our time together because I always drive her everywhere including to do grocery shopping whenever I had the time, my brother’s never ending morning sleep, and my sister’s frantic rush when she is late. I’m going to miss them.

5 Responses to “Batak And New Year’s Eve Tradition”

  1. on 05 Dec 2007 at 8:50 am # meilina

    Survey membuktikan…(siapa yang survey ya???)hehe..Pasti tepat tgl 1 jan, hampir semua orang batak pada jadi orang rumahan..Actually I also miss that moment, so thankful that until now, I have a complete family my parents, bro,sis, n me celebrating that moment, but why I’m so affraid to answer same question for almost this 3 years..O God help me find the right words for this new years eve..(ini comment pa curhat ya):)Thanks for this blog..

  2. on 05 Dec 2007 at 10:38 am # vera agustina

    That’s right bin, kalo begini g bangga & bersyukur jd org batak (he..he..) sptnya hny halak kita aj yg pny tradisi spt ini di mlm thn baru..,g jg sgt merindukan bisa kumpul2 & main bersama keponakan yg lucu2 (mmh g namboru yg baik loh..)

  3. on 06 Dec 2007 at 11:40 am # binsar

    wah.. pertanyaan apa tuh mei??? hahaha…
    vera, emailnya blom aku balas, masih direnungkan tuh :)

  4. on 11 Dec 2007 at 6:44 am # meilina

    aja adah…:)

  5. on 14 Dec 2007 at 2:22 pm # vera agustina

    Perenungannya lama banget P’ Pendeta wah keburu thn 2007 berlalu nih..(he..he..)

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