Revealed When Indonesian People Bought Eid Clothes, It Became an 'Economic Disaster'

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – When welcoming Eid, Indonesians often buy new clothes to wear on the holiday. However, do you know since when this habit has been going on?

CNBC Indonesia conducted a search and proved that this is not a contemporary custom, but has been going on for hundreds of years. This is proven based on the empirical observations of Snouck Hurgronje or Haji Abdul Gaffur (1857-1936).

Please note, Snouck is a Dutch agnostic and academic who is interested in the Islamic world. In 1885, he managed to enter Mecca and stayed for six months just to study Islam.

After that, the Dutch East Indies government sent him to Aceh to observe the people there. While in Aceh, Snouck successfully wrote a book De Atjeher which was very useful for the colonial government to overcome the turbulent resistance of the Acehnese people.

One of the things he highlighted while in Aceh was the habit of residents buying new clothes during Eid. In Aceh in the Eyes of Colonialists (1906), Snouck said that the market selling clothes and similar goods at the end of the fasting period was much more crowded with people than selling meat or animals.

This can happen, said Snouck, because everyone wants to wear new clothes on holidays. The reason is, in Acehnese culture, a husband's love or appreciation for his children or wife is measured by shopping goods from the market, from meat to new clothes.

However, before wearing new clothes, there is one condition that residents must fulfill first, namely paying zakat fitrah. Only after fulfilling their religious obligations do residents wear new clothes when Eid arrives.

“After paying fitrah, they wore new clothes […] and then paid a visit to offer congratulations,” Snouck wrote.

Apart from Aceh, the man born in 1857 also observed a similar incident in Batavia (now Jakarta). In a letter to the Director of Home Affairs dated April 20 1904, Snouck wrote that during Eid there were many parties accompanied by typical Eid food, visiting relatives, buying new clothes and entertainment.

In fact, Snouck also noted that buying new clothes, firecrackers and food can cost more money than usual. This can happen because residents consider Eid as a special day.

“Among the commemorative days which recur once a year and which apply to the entire population in this way, Eid which ends the fast is the most prominent, and that cannot be denied,” wrote Snouck, quoted from Snouck Hurgronje's Advice Volume IV (1991).

On this basis, many colonial officials considered Eid celebrations to be wasteful and urged the elimination of Eid celebrations. In fact, calling it an economic disaster.

However, Snouck said that this pressure did not need to be realized and that calling Eid an economic disaster was an exaggeration. Because celebrating Eid has become a habit for Muslims in Indonesia. In the end, Snouck's statement was proven: Eid and the various habits that follow, including buying new clothes, continue to this day.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]