Don’t ignore Christ in Christmas. It’s His Birthday! (A Reflection on Sumanto’s “White Christmas”)

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas Kristen Indonesia

We are celebrating a true Christmas only if Christ is not kept outside or still left in the manger.”

Christmas is one of the greatest Christian festivals because it is held to celebrate the birth of Christ. It is the birthday of the Savior, who came to the world, lived with the sinful people, and redeemed their sins to restore their relationship with God. Since it is His birthday party, the essential reason for the celebration must be Christ.

People are used to optimizing their resources so that their Christmas celebrations are held in a comfortable and bright room with beautiful decorations and sparkling lights. Dressed in fancy cloth, they enjoy abundant food and drinks, sing and dance accompanied by beautiful music, and laugh happily while sharing Christmas gifts or when Santa Claus distributes presents. Ironically, they forget one thing: the parties are held without Christ, the person whose birthday is supposed to be celebrating. Instead of being in the celebration comfortable rooms, He is still left in a manger in a dark stable somewhere far away.

Such irony is the focus of “Krismas Putih” (“White Christmas”) a poem written by Bakdi Sumanto in 1987 in Oberlin, Ohio, while he was studying at Oberlin College of the Northern Illinois University. The poem was included in the anthology entitled “Kata” published in 2006 by Bentang Pustaka. It was translated by John H. McGlynn and was published with 68 poems of various Indonesian in the anthology titled “On Foreign Shores: American Images in Indonesian Poetry” by The Lontar Foundation (1990).

Written in 35 lines in seven stanzas, “White Christmas” is a narrative poem that tells the events related to ‘pseudo’ Christmas celebration in Oberlin, Ohio. It is a pseudo-Christmas because despite their belief they were celebrating Christmas, they did not realize it was essentially not Christmas. 

The narrator starts by bluntly telling that Christmas which is supposed to be “white” did not come to Oberlin because “The snow was postponed” and “the weather was changed”. However, …

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