Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas and a Malay Tradition

As Christmas approaches....

................................................Christmas wreath, our front door

... I am thinking of a wonderful tradition that the Malays have. My Malay friend informs me that Google says it is practised by the Malays particularly in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.

*For my foreign readers, when we say 'Malays' here in Malaysia, we mean one of the races of people found in this multi-racial country. The nationality of all citizens of Malaysia on the other hand, which is made up of Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and other races is Malaysian. The reason I am mentioning this is, some foreigners mistakenly call us, the people of Malaysia, Malays, instead of Malaysians.

Now that I've cleared that up...

............Winter scene on top of shoe cupboard, porch entrance - winter in Malaysia, HAH!

This is the tradition: On one of the Malays' special festive days, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, which is once a year, the family gathers and the children line up, eldest to youngest, to seek for forgiveness from their parents. (In some families, the parents are seated and the child kneels before each parent.) Then each child clasps their hands over their parents' hands, and says words like, "Maaf zahir dan batin" which means, "Forgive me for my wrong words and/or deeds" or a simple, "Minta ampun dan maaf" which means, "Please forgive me, I am sorry".

.................Cushions given as gifts, 2 with green, and 2 with red backgrounds - love them!

For some, this is done among the members of the immediate family and, on visiting the grandparents' home, the children and grandchildren of the elderly folks repeat this gesture before them. It is basically rooted in the tradition of the younger ones showing respect for the elder ones, so siblings also seek forgiveness from their older ones.

...............Deco on "Lady Victoria", a rescued cupboard blogged about earlier on

There is variation on how this is done, with some families doing it privately.

Wives also practise this tradition with their husbands, and vice versa. This is repeated when the in-laws are visited, the couple to their parents-in-law.

...............................................Christmas ladder!

This tradition has been observed by Malays for many, many years. Of course, the gesture is supposed to be carried out with sincerity, although, how sincere the person is should not be questioned.

...............Dining area corner - frames are windows thrown out by furniture shop

.......................Dining area lamp prettified - twigs picked up from around neighbourhood

Now, how.awesome.is.that!

Imagine, all the mischief, disobedience, disrespect, rebellion done over the past year by the younger one is brought before the older one who does not hold account of them anymore. It's like casting off your wrongdoings, deleting them. It's like having your slate wiped clean from the past year's offenses. It's like starting over, with new-year resolutions.

..................................Garlanded stairs (not lit up in this pic)

I know it is an American tradition to show appreciation to family members (although that was not how the tradition was started) by sometimes sharing kind words of thankfulness and then sharing a toast to one other at the Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving Day is the day they remember to be grateful for people and things around them.

........................Christmas tree against faux brick wall (painted)

But I don't know of any one day where Christians actually observe the practice of seeking forgiveness from loved ones. Of course, we can argue that we should be doing that throughout the year, as soon as we wrong someone even. But my point is, sometimes when a special day is observed to practise an honorable gesture like this, it allows for time to take stock. Giving and receiving forgiveness will not be taken for granted and brushed off, or put off to another time, but would be purposefully thought of. Just like we should appreciate our loved ones throughout the year, yet Valentine's Day, regardless of its origin, is the day many have adopted to be the day to remember and appreciate loved ones.

As I was putting up the Christmas decorations around our house this year (hence all the photos above, because I like my posts to have some eye-candy!), this was what I was pondering about. Traditions that are so worth-mentioning and maybe even adopting.

...........................Awesome tissue box with harlequin design

.................................Baubles make me happy

What do you think?

. As you consider the year as it closes, are there wrongs you need to make right with the simple (but may not be easy) act of asking for forgiveness?
Wooden rocking horse thrown out by a playschool. Original colour - a loud purple with yellow flowers and green rocking legs - painted white and brown, and distressed. "Reins" are twine with 2 silver bells hung from them.

.................................The cutest toadstools ever!

. Are there people who have wronged you but you have consciously or unconsciously with-held forgiveness from? your parents, bosses, partners, colleagues, friends, siblings?

. Something to think about - if we with-hold forgiveness from any one person, who is the one who loses out?

. Sometimes, do you think, it is not even about who wronged who, but it is more about nurturing and restoring a relationship?

. My bet is, being unforgiving, holding grudges, being bitter, contributes to a lot of illnesses, not to mention sleepless nights

...................................Reindeer bandanna

May we have a Blessed and Forgiving Christmas.

*the writer of this blog reads and enjoys every comment! Look for the comment section at the end of the blog and leave one there, would you? I do try to reply each one.

* do sign up as a follower of this blog, too! that's the column on the right....who knows, a Christmas gift may be coming your way!


  1. "Sorry seems to be the hardest word!"

    Love your Xmas deco ... wonderful what you did with the rocking horse.
    Should have uprooted the Xmas tree from ___.

    Merry Christmas to you and family Val.
    Maaf Zahir Batin.

  2. Huda, hahaha! yes, just in case - Maaf Zahir Batin. (regret not taking a before-photo of that rocking horse)

  3. So must forgive me when I say this aite? I didn't expect you to have the talent for art and deco! (Jus' kiddin' :D) Nicely done A. Val!

  4. Norman - you don't know a lot of things about me...nyah ah ah... :D

  5. ˙pƎΛO˥Ǝq ⅄W ∩O⅄ O┴ S∀W┴SIɹHƆ pƎSSƎ˥q ⅄ɹƎΛ ∀

  6. Anonymous - wow,has this blog post inspired you to turn over a new leaf? hee hee.

  7. Looking at your posts always make wish to have a place of my owns'.... the satisfaction of seeing transformation done by my own itchy hand.. hmmm.. They're lovely! *love* =)

  8. Awww..is this the deco we would've seen if your Xmas party jadi?
    Yeah I agree, it's a good tradition, having a day to forgive each other and let bygones be bygones. It's always easier said than done though to take the first step and it takes a lot of courage and thick skin. - Sheila

  9. *Small-Boar* some day...some day...but someone taught me once that any place you live in, even temporarily, make it your 'own'. That'll make you happy.

  10. Sheila - it's still on, my precious niece! just finding a different date. Yes, easier said than done but someone once told me the person who makes the first move is the bigger person.

  11. Finding the right moment to ask for forgiveness is hard and sometimes we brush it off till it's too late so having this opportunity yearly is good. Looks like you are all ready for Christmas ...

    Merry Christmas Val, Maaf zahir batin

  12. Oli - I love how Merry Christmas now comes with Maaf zahir batin!! hahaha! Thanks so much.

  13. I LOVE/d reading this blog ... on the 'message' of Christmas; plus it gave me ideas for my own Christmas-deco (though I don't think my dear hubby will let me make-over a corner wall to look like an 'English Christmas' ...ha!ha!ha!)
    The rocking horse & darling fern (with cute toadstools) are too cute for words; my grand-nephews love looking at the pic...(hint!)
    Merry Christmas to you & family, Val - Maaf Zahir Batin!

  14. Woweee....now that's a great greeting! Merry Christmas to you, too! And maaf zahir batin!

  15. Aunty Val, I love you decorative sense. I love how u use the thrown items and "bedazzle" them to look so good. u inspire me :)

  16. Roxsta Pam - bedazzle...hee hee...I like that word. Thanks, Pam!

  17. Found you through Funky Junk Interiors. Love your decorations!

  18. Hey, Toodie (like your nickname!)...thanks so much. Fancy that, finding me through FJI. Donna is one crazy, creative lady!