KUCHING: In a truly unique Sarawak style, Christmas is celebrated by all in the state regardless of their religious beliefs and racial backgrounds.
Nurse Siti Rosumizah, 23, said she is proud to be a Sarawakian because of this.
“Even though my friends and I are Muslims, we can still visit our non-Muslim friends during this festive Christmas holiday,” she said when interviewed.
She remarked that locals held a lot of mutual respect for each other and everyone was very inclusive and open-minded.
Helen Ten, 36, owner of Helen & Herman Garden, said that she celebrated Christmas with her family and friends even though she was not a Christian herself.
“We usually spend time together, have a meal, and exchange gifts,” she said.
“I believe that Sarawak is very unique in the sense that everyone of all races and religions can come together to celebrate Christmas in unity and harmony,” she added.
Ten has a stall at The Spring’s Christmas Market and shared her view that the mall had one of the most vibrant Christmas decorations and programmes in town.
“They have put great thought into forming a creative Christmas storyline from the front door to the end of the mall, which both children and adults would find very interesting,” she said.
She pointed out that they also had many events during the holiday season including workshops which families could participate in together.
“It is wonderful because they can learn something together.”
Lawyer Stephen Tan Ban Cheng, 70, from Penang, also commented on the mall’s decorative efforts.
“I can definitely get that Yuletide feeling that I would not even be able to experience back in Penang, but which I would probably feel in Hong Kong, Manila, or Singapore.”
Meanwhile, another mall patron Isabel Valentina, 19, agreed that the Christmas spirit was in the air at the centre.
“The bright colours they use in the decorations really suit the festive joy,” she said, adding that young children would enjoy the vivid scenes on display.
Advertising and promotions manager at The Spring, Aida Azimah Mohd Abas, said that the Christmas themes selected for the year were usually based on stories for the family.
“This year, our theme is Jack and the Beanstalk, but we tweaked it a little to make Jack a mouse. We wanted to instill the message of believing.
“It is about believing that if you have a good heart like Jack, you can change people for the better, like the giant did in our version of the story,” she told New Sarawak Tribune.
Aida expressed her hope that the charity efforts by the mall in collaboration with other groups would instill a sense of giving in the society, especially in children.
“We are teaming up with three charity organisations this year — Hope Place, the Salvation Army, and the Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society,” she said.
She said that they were hosting a charity donation drive called ‘Eggs of Giving’ in which necessities, food items, and school items could be donated to help the less fortunate.
The mall had an entire month full of events, she said, including workshops for children and adults to participate in and performances.
“We also have nightly choir performances in the lead-up to Christmas Eve when we will have our annual fireworks,” she remarked.
According to Aida, since the Christmas campaign was launched at the end of November, there had been a 40 per cent increase in the number of shoppers.
“If you compare this to last year in the same week, there is an increase of about nine percent,” she revealed.