Selamat Hari Natal

You might have known that the phrase above means Merry Christmas in Indonesian.

But do you know the meaning of each of the words?


The word ‘selamat’ can mean to wish you a good… (as a part of a phrase), congratulation (noun) or safe (adjective).

This word is widely used in the Indonesian language to express different types of greeting – from  good morning  to  happy new year.

In the phrase above the word ‘selamat’ most likely means to wish you a good…


The word ‘hari’ can be used by itself to mean day  but can also be used together with another noun to describe the type of day.

For this to happen, the word ‘hari’ – which is the main object – needs to come first and the other noun that explains the type of day needs to come second.

As an example, we can say  ‘hari ibu’ that means mother’s day. This is the exact opposite of English.


Having understood the explanation above, you should be able to guess what the word ‘natal’ means. ‘Natal’ by itself means Christmas.

But is there anything else we need to know about this word?

The word ‘Natal’ in Indonesian was adopted from Portuguese and has similar essence but different status than the same word in English:

In English, ‘Natal’ is an adjective that is used to relate to the place or time of one’s birth (Source: You might have also heard the word ‘Natal’ used when talking about pregnancy (i.e. prenatal or postnatal).

In Indonesian, ‘Natal’ is not an adjective but a noun that could mean either:

1. Birth of a person
2. Birth of Jesus Christ

Although the word itself has two meanings, Indonesian already has the word for birth (kelahiran) and hence the word ‘Natal’ is more often – or perhaps almost most of the time – used to refer to the birth of Jesus Christ, just as like the word Christmas in English (Source:


I hope you find the explanation above useful. Selamat Hari Natal!

Have a question regarding this topic? Post your question below!

Other words Indonesians might use in their Christmas Greetings:

Tuhan (Noun) = God
Damai (Noun) = Peace
Cinta kasih (Noun) = Agape Love
Terang (Noun) = Light
Kasih (Noun) = Agape Love
Merayakan (Verb) = To celebrate
Sukacita (Noun) = Joy

Special Edition #1: Merry Christmas in Indonesian

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