The winner of the topic poll was Christmas in Malaysia! Probably one of the more uneventful holidays we’ve spent here. lol. Christmas was a little hard for me because I’m used to spending it with my family and having the Christmas season smack in your face. I love our tradition of going out as a family on Christmas Eve to look at lights all over the city, walking around the temple and seeing the manger scene there, getting all bundled up in coats and scarves and carrying around hot chocolate. I love the groups of people who wander around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols and getting together in church groups to take fruit baskets to the elderly or people who are alone. All around town people are bundled up to stay warm and have fun Christmas outfits. And then it’s always fun watching dad hang lights from the roof and coming home to find mom has put up a Christmas display on her lawn. The whole inside of the house is a Christmas wonderland. Mom stays up all night to decorate the tree so when everyone wakes up it’s all pretty and sparkly. We also watch Christmas movies all month long and my mom has Christmas music playing from November to January. So does my sister. I give them such a hard time about it (Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and shouldn’t be passed over for Christmas), but it’s all in fun. That’s the Christmas I’m used to.
Christmas in Malaysia is a bit different than in the US, at least in central Kuala Lumpur. The area where we live is very built up and not pedestrian friendly, so there are no carolers, no street decorations, no houses decorated with lights. There are lights that hang in Little India all year round, but there weren’t any huge lawn displays or houses outlined to look like life-size glowing gingerbread houses like in the US. Add in the 90 degree weather and it didn’t really feel like it was Christmas. Say what you will about cold weather, but Christmas without having to bundle up in jackets doesn’t really seem like Christmas.
The mall, though, was another story.
The malls here get all decked out in Christmas decorations and have booth after booth of Christmas items all down the walkway. Christmas music is playing, huge trees reach several floors high and there are stockings and holly bushes as far as the eye can see. Walking into the malls at Christmas here is like walking into a Christmas festival. Plus, the malls really crank up their AC, so that intensified the Christmas feeling. lol. It was really great. I actually spent a few afternoons wandering around the mall just enjoying the Christmas atmosphere. It wasn’t until right before we left for Cambodia on the 20th that I learned that all the malls in the city have a competition to see who can have the biggest and most decked out Christmas tree. There wasn’t time between Cambodia and Langkawi to go check out the different malls here, so I just got to see the decorations at MidValley Mall, which was still worth seeing.
All the decorations at the mall were a bit of a surprise to me since Malaysia is a Muslim country and Muslims don’t really celebrate Christmas. But they do love to shop, so they’ve embraced the commercial aspect of it. lol
Around town there were a few Christmasy type events, but it was mostly singing carols in local Christian churches and private celebrations. As far as I’m aware, Christmas traditions in Malaysia consist mostly of Christians going to their respective churches at midnight on Christmas Eve for a service and singing carols. Some churches do neighborhood carols, but from what I’ve heard, it is mostly just friends getting together to sing at each other’s houses. I couldn’t find out if there are any Santa booths anywhere, but I do know that some people dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus to wander around a couple of the malls for fun. There aren’t any specific Malay Christmas customs since pretty much all Malays are Muslim. It is very rare to find a Christian Malay. My mom wanted so badly to learn about Malaysian Christmas traditions and it’s sad to report that I have not been able to learn about any. There may be some, but I’ve not heard about any or been able to find any online. Though, there is a place that is semi-unique to Malaysia and can be considered Christmasy. I guess it could be considered a Christmas tradition to go there in December.
There is a place here called I-City in Shah Alam that has an indoor snow center and some of Troy’s coworkers went there so they could have a white Christmas. Troy and I went to I-City, but we didn’t go in the snow room. Troy isn’t really into holidays and really doesn’t like cold weather, so we spent about 4 or so hours enjoying the lights that make up I-City and just enjoying being around something that reminded us of Christmas. I absolutely LOVED all the lights and the carousel and all the people selling sparkly-lighted toys. It was just so much fun to wander around and see all the kids playing with the flashing toys and seeing all the creative things they’d made with lights. With all the lights on the trees, the artificial Christmas trees and the few winter-themed pieces, it felt like Christmas while we were there.
When we first got to I-City, I was totally acting like a little kid. I was craning my neck to keep the lights in site as we drove around to get to the parking area and was bouncing around with excitement as Troy got out the camera gear and locked up the car. I LOVE Christmas lights and this place was FILLED with lights, so I was super excited to be there.
We actually waited several hours to get the picture of Cinderella’s carriage without people in it. There were TONS of Malays all over the place and they all wanted their picture in the carriage (who wouldn’t?), so it took a while for us to get clean shots. It was fun, though, watching all the little kids be so fascinated by everything and just watching everyone having a good time there. Being there did feel like Christmas. People were happy and laughing and seemed to be channeling the good ole Christmas Spirit. Several people asked to take pictures with us while we were there, which was pretty funny. Kids waved at us a few times and it was entertaining seeing people double-take at us periodically. It was great being there and I’m really glad we went. I could have stayed there all night long and enjoyed how pretty the lights were. Being there did make it feel like Christmas and made me feel like maybe I wasn’t really so far away from home after all.