Ways Malaysians Celebrate Christmas

Christmas is a Christian festival observed on 25 December to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. This festivity is celebrated by billions of people around the world annually.

We managed to catch up with some of CatchThatBus customers who have shared the customs and traditions of Christmas celebration from their experience celebrating it in Malaysia.

MARK DANKER | Malaccan Portuguese (Eurasian) 

Photo by Mark Danker

Mark Danker shared a rich insight on how people from his culture, the Malaccan Portuguese community celebrate Christmas through mass, carolling and music, gift-giving, dinner at home, as well as visiting tradition within the Eurasian settlement.

Christmas Mass
Generally, people would attend mass during Christmas. Midnight mass (on Christmas Eve) is usually held in a chapel or the village square. The mass is typically extra-long given the number of people attending. The chapel is generally packed, but with limited seats, so most people would have to stand outside during the event. The rest is held the next day in various churches within proximity, at different times, from morning to night.

Carolling & Music
Many carolling groups will be roaming around the village, singing Christmas carols as they walk along the crowded village streets moving from house to house. Even in households, we’d have speakers blasting with songs (not necessarily Christmas carols, but lively music ranging from oldies to modern-popular songs you may hear on the radio). The music doesn’t stop until late in the morning.

Gift Giving
Gifts are mostly given to the younger children, not so much to the elder ones in middle secondary onwards. It can come in the form of presents or more often than not — money placed in an ‘ang pao’ packet.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Dinner at Home
The whole family gathers under one roof and feast homecooked food for dinner. It can range from traditional Eurasian delicacies such as ‘sebak’ and devil curry to the common fried poultries, with rice on the table every single year. Drinks can range from beer, whisky, soft drinks and more. There will be lots of socializing and catching up.

Other homes may choose to cater to their food as they usually receive loads of visitors. Still, generally, we eat dinner at home because at this time of the year tourists fill the village to bask in the festivity and admire the decorated houses and the music.

Visiting Neighbours
We usually head over to our neighbour’s homes to extend the compliments of the season. They will invite us to eat and drink, and later we will engage in some chit chat and laughter. Sometimes we receive friends from other faiths and cultures coming to our house as well, and this is not only to Christmas Day but may stretch to a couple of days after.

MICHELLE WANG | Malaysian Chinese 

Photo by Michelle Wang

Christmas celebration for Michelle Wang, a Chinese Malaysian from Kuala Lumpur is about getting together with the family every year on Christmas Eve to enjoy Christmas Spirit & Joy. The family will come together to feast the traditional fare of turkey alongside other varieties of food.

Then 1 hour before 25 December, everyone will come together to sing Christmas songs until midnight followed with a gift exchange session. The night is filled mainly with lots of laughter, chats, and alcohol. 🥂

GRACE SADOM | Murut Lunbawang (Native)

Photo by Grace Sadom

On the other hand, Grace Sadom, a native of Murut Lunbawang ethnic group from Sabah, shared fundamental insights into her family tradition of a Christian Christmas celebration through Christmas service and open house.

Photo by Grace Sadom

Christmas Service
Regardless of where we spend Christmas holiday — the 25 December morning consists of going to church. The church’s Christmas program itself is filled with sermons, performances and gift-exchange activities. The morning program is dedicated to the pastor preaching on topics such as the meaning of Christmas and the significance of Christ’s birth while the evening service will be for leisurely activities.

Photo by Grace Sadom

Open House
My parents and extended family in general love entertaining guests, so we will be visiting one another during Christmas week.

On my dad’s side, the siblings take turns to host the gathering. On my mom’s, however, since the family members are smaller in number, we would gather at either my aunt’s or mine. 

We’re not much for games or activities save for gift exchanging, but we mostly cook a good dinner and enjoy my mom’s signature fruitcake during which we catch up with each other. 


Photo by Vivienne Joannes

At the same time, Vivienne Joannes of Dusun descends had also described her side of Christmas fare through Christmas mass and feast. 

Christmas Mass at Church
Every year my family will go to a Christmas mass at our local church on the morning of 25 December. There will be the usual mass and special performances from the adult ministry, youth ministry and kid ministry of the church. After the mass, usually, we will have a fare.

Christmas Feast
Since my dad’s side of the family is quite big (more than 100), we will have a feast together on the evening of 25 December with all of the family members. After that, we will play some games and do the most anticipated activity — karaoke.


Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 5.04.08 PM
Photo by Joell Jaim

Last but not least, let’s check out Joell Jaim’s joyful Chrismas plan for the year.

Christmas in the City
Christmas is a time to gather with family members. However, since I’ve been studying far from home, I will not celebrate Christmas at home in Sabah but with friends and church members in Kuala Lumpur instead.

This year, we are going to have a small gathering at my friend’s house. We planned to have beef, chicken and sausage barbeque with a handmade sauce made out of chilli, lime and soy sauce. We will also make some side dishes, including pickled mango, fried egg, soup, and salad with rice. Yums!

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 5.03.51 PM
Photo by Joell Jaim

There will be a karaoke session and a sharing session of the good, bad and our hope of the past and the future — sharing the joy, bond, and appreciation to God, who had given us a chance to meet up and share the love. Of course, we will not forget to take many selfies for social media!


If you are going back to your hometown or planning for a short getaway this Christmas, book bus ticket online at CatchThatBus today. Various operators are available such as Transnasional, Starmart Express, KKKL, Ekspres Perdana and more!


Featured Image Credit: WSU | News

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