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St Mary’s Cathedral, dating back to 1899, mesmerises both worshippers and tourists with its twinkling lights and glittering stained panels during the Christmas and New Year season.  Photos: Aung Khant

Goodwill far and wide

There’s even greater fervour in the remote areas than in the cities – they celebrate Christmas for weeks
STAFF WRITERS

T

O the would-be first time
visitor, Myanmar is the land of
brilliant pagodas. In particular,
the ancient city of Bagan, famous for
its 2,000-plus Buddhist monuments,
immediately bears comparison
as a spectacle with Angkor Wat in
Cambodia, to the eyes of many.
Even in Yangon, the commercial

hub of Myanmar, everywhere the
visitor goes, there is a pagoda to be
seen, not the least of which is the
most famous one in the country,
the glittering, golden Shwedagon
Pagoda.
Yet, even amid this
overwhelming evidence of the
country’s main religion, Buddhism,
evidence of other religions can
easily be found. A towering redbrick example is the largest Catholic

cathedral in Myanmar, St Mary’s.
This magnificent structure, dating
back to 1899, is on Yangon’s Bo Aung
Kyaw Street, where its twinkling
lights and glittering stained panels
mesmerise both worshippers and
tourists in the month of December.
There are other landmark
churches, both Catholic and
otherwise, to be found in Yangon
and elsewhere in Myanmar because
Christianity took root here centuries

ago. In a country of about 53 million
people and a mosaic of 135 ethnic
groups, Christians make up about 6
percent of Myanmar‘s population.
They mostly reside in the far-flung
upper parts of the country like Chin,
Kayin and Kachin states.
“For the Christians in Myanmar,
I would say Christmas begins
on December 1. Starting from
December 1, you would see the
Christians holding fast to a
tradition of caroling and spreading
the good news of the upcoming
solemnity of Christmas by going
from house to house regardless
of any religion or social status,”
Cardinal Charles Bo of St Mary’s
Cathedral told The Myanmar Times.
“It has a religious and cultural
background. As far as nonChristians are concerned, they
share our joy of Christmas and help
the Christians with contributions of
alms and the best they have.”
Tradition runs deep here. It’s
a season for carol singing, many
church activities, feasting and the

exchanging of gifts.
Inevitably too, like elsewhere in
the world, commercialism has crept
in. Special festival sales, Christmas
colours of red, green and white
brighten new malls and modern
cafés. Neither the niggling 7pc or so
inflation rate nor the weakening kyat
seems to have dampened the festive
mood this year.
“Christmas, I think, is getting
more popular across the country,”
said Cardinal Bo. “Most shopping
centres and hotels in the cities
and countryside are adorned
with Christmas lights and trees
even though some of them, if not
most, do not really understand its
meaning but know how to make
money out of it.
“It is almost on the lips of
everyone and non-Christians
adopt many of the secular aspects
of Christmas, such as gift-giving,
decorations and Christmas trees.”
At another landmark church in
Yangon, the colonial-style, white
coated Immanuel Baptist Church,

CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR
Executive Editor: Myo Lwin

Photography: Aung Khant, Thiri Lu, AFP

Editor: Clovis Santiago

Cover photo: Shutterstock

Sub editor: P. Vijian
Staff writers: Zay Yar Linn, Aung Kyaw
Nyunt, Kyaw Ko Ko, Chan Mya Htwe

Cover design: Tin Zaw Htway
Layout design: Khin Zaw

For feedback and enquiries, please contact

c.santiago@mmtimes.com

built in 1885, gleams at night. A
string of activities is lined up for the
big day.
“We will have the
Cantata Service, White Gift
services [sending gifts to the
underprivileged], and Christmas
Eve and Christmas Day services
this month. On Christmas Day, we
serve mohinga the whole day and
thousands of people, Christians and
non-Christians, participate in the
feast,” said Senior Rev Dr Yaw Lah
of the Immanuel Baptist church.
Said Dr Christina Po Ba,
president of the National Young
Women’s Christian Association in
Yangon, “It is the most important
day for Christians in this country
and even non-Christians join in
the caroling because Myanmars
like music. In villages, small
communities celebrate more than
city dwellers.
“They decorate their homes, cook
together and feast for days. It is very
community based, whereas people
in cities celebrate in churches and
in homes with family and friends.”
In predominantly Christian
Chin State, for instance, the
celebration lasts for weeks and spills
over to the New Year.
“People in villages are mostly
farmers and they celebrate together.
The youths go caroling to raise
funds. On the eve, villagers usually
come together to host a big dinner
and they sing carols and celebrate
the whole night. Some are too poor
to exchange gifts but some people
exchange small gifts,” said Rev Dr

Christians in remote areas come together to celebrate Christmas in their own traditional way.  Photo: AFP

Christie Mawia from the Immanuel
Baptist Church.
Roasted turkey may be missing
from the menu in Myanmar homes
but the national dish, mohinga, and
other local favourites are served.
In southern Shan State, warm food
is served in churches in the Kalaw
area because of the cold weather.

“People are served kyarsan
hingar (vermicelli soup), arpu
sharpu (rice noodles and fish soup),
chicken soup, coffee or Ovaltine
when they finish prayers at the
churches. We go around singing
songs in groups, with young and
middle-aged people, at friends’
houses. People donate money or

reward us with food,” said Mary
Agnes, a church worker based for
about 20 years in Kalaw township.
Cardinal Bo added, “Christmas
for the Christians in Myanmar is
not merely about exchanging gifts
and sharing a traditional meal with
the family. It rather is the Epiphany
for which we hope, in which we

rejoice and have faith, and through
which we bring peace to the people
of God and of goodwill.”
In a statement issued for the
New Year, the Cardinal called all
religions and ethnic groups to
observe January 1 as a day of fast
and prayer to make 2017 the Year of
Peace.

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Making merry
with Christmas

Hotel specials for festive outings
ZAY YAR LINN, CHAN MYA HTWE

T

HE year-end is always party
time. In many cities around
the world, people throng
hotels to usher in Christmas and
the New Year. Hotels, catering to
demand, offer a flurry of events,
specially prepared menus and festival
discounts to guests. Listed here are
some of what’s on offer to revellers in
Yangon, including stay-in packages
and hangover brunches.

Celebrating the festive season can be
fulfilling in Myanmar, spiritually and in
many other ways
KYAW KO KO

W

ITH Christmas and the
New Year in the air, it is
not just cathedrals and
churches that are busy putting up
decorations to celebrate the season.
Supermarkets, hotels, restaurants,
and the like have joined the festivity
to woo customers, both local and
foreign.
While Christmas is celebrated
annually on December 25 by
most people around the world,
western European countries begin
celebrating at least a month ahead.

In the United States, for instance,
the Christmas season starts with
Thanksgiving Day – the fourth
Thursday in November.
In Myanmar, it takes hold on
December 1, a date gradually coming
to be thought of as ‘Sweet December’
by the young and old.
Though Myanmar is a
predominantly Buddhist country,
Christians and Christmas, and its
traditions, have been entrenched
here for centuries. Unsurprisingly,
therefore, non-Christians here look
forward to the celebrations and join
in the revelry regardless of religion
or race.

Sedona Hotel Yangon
1, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road
Phone: +951 860 5377

Churches and families use their creativity to build crèche sets portraying the birth of Jesus in a stable.  Photo: Staff

According to Father Pyone
Cho, a tutor at St. Thomas Aquinas
Pre-Major Seminary in Mandalay,
“There is no change in the mode of
Christmas celebrations either in

western Europe or Asia, although
ways of decorating churches to
attract people have gradually
changed. Churches that can
afford more seem to display more
adornments. Everyone, more or
less, has some excitement over how
one’s church is to be set up, though
decorations using various kinds of
lighting are now becoming trendy.”
Usually, decorations consist of
things related to the Christmas story
or traditions. Each year there would
be different casts of Santa Claus,
Christmas trees, stars, nativity
sets and all sorts of ornaments, and
colorful lighting.
Christmas trees are set up,
mistletoe is hung outside doorsteps,
families use their creativity to build
crèche sets portraying Jesus’s birth
in a stable as people adorn their
homes for the season.
Thiri Kyaw, youth secretary at
St. Joseph Church, Mandalay, said
priests, nuns and the laity from a
church would hold meetings in early
December to discuss how to decorate
their church. Christian youths would
volunteer to beautify the church
with decorations based on how much
donations the church received.
Lighting costs might range between
K1 million and K25 million.
Where in the past candles
and bulbs were used, now special
Christmas lighting such as LED,
icicle lights, C7/C9 bulbs and twinkle
lights can be seen in their place.
As for Christmas trees, in place of
genuine ones, China-made artificial
fir trees are used. Depending on size,
these trees easily cost anywhere
from K10,000 to K100,000.
Myint Zaw, a volunteer for church
decorations, said, “Preparations
start about two weeks before
Christmas. We take great care to
maintain tradition when we make
the nativity set. To be natural, we use
thatch for the roof of the manger and
put some straw on the floor. Besides
statues of baby Jesus and his parents,
Mary and Joseph, some churches
have additional statues of shepherds,
wise men, angels, a donkey, barn
animals, sheep and camels. We
use real flowers wherever possible.
The altar where the Mass is held is
adorned with mostly golden yellow
ribbons. There is no firm regulation
on how to decorate one’s church.”
Red, green and white colours
are most widely used for Christmas
decorations, but the church altars
glow with golden yellow. Wealthy

Christians usually donate cash, or
in-kind, for church decorations.
Although an anonymous
document, believed to have been
written in North Africa around 243
AD, placed Jesus’s birth on March 28,
the first recorded date of Christmas
being celebrated on December 25
was in 336 AD, during the Roman
Emperor Constantine’s era (the first
Christian Roman Emperor). A few
years later Pope Julius I officially
declared Jesus’s birth would be
celebrated on December 25.
“On December 24, just before
midnight, all lights are turned off.
Then exactly at midnight, to welcome
the birth of Jesus, church bells are
rung, decorative lights are turned
on and flowers strewn. In the past it
wasn’t easy to buy things to decorate.
Now everything can be bought very
easily. You can buy as many lighting
bulbs as you like and use them for
decorations,” said Myint Zaw.
Christmas decorations are kept in
place usually for two or three weeks
after Christmas before they are
taken down.
Hotels, where foreigners
frequent, try to outdo each other
in their exterior and interior
decorations, and also stage other
events such as Christmas parties and
buffets, and give away gifts as part of
the festivities.
According to Mandalay Hotel
Dingar’s manager, Kyaw Myo Latt,
“Our hotel has special programs
for Christmas every year. From
the first week of December, the
front of the hotel is decorated with
lights and a large well-lit artificial
reindeer is placed there. Inside,
we set up Christmas trees and
artificial snowflakes. Since our
main customers are foreigners, we
will place some surprise Christmas
gifts in their rooms. Like in other
countries, we take time to prepare
for it and we are now doing as much
as we can... but here we use our own
lighting and decoration design.”
“Colourful lights, LED spotlights
and sparklers are imported from
Singapore, Thailand and Chinamade products are now mostly used
for lighting. People also tend to use
special coloured bulbs in bulk, like at
least 40 to 50 pieces [in a row],” said
Win Naung, owner of his namesake
electrical business.
Yes, the Christmas and New Year
season can be quite a bright and
fulfilling time in Myanmar.
Translation by Zaw Nyunt

The Sedona Hotel Yangon created
three special programs for this
Christmas and New Year.
During this cold season in
December, the first under the Festive
Season at Sedona was the Children’s
Funfair on December 11 and, as
always, the hotel has its Christmas
at Sedona program on Christmas
Eve (Saturday, December 24) and on
Christmas Day (Sunday, December
25).
Christmas at Sedona will feature
all customary and contemporary
traditions from around the world.
Bubbly Brunch will cost US$33
person and will be served between
11:30am and 3pm. Dinner will be
from 3 to 10pm, and will cost $36.
Lunch will cost around $20 if a guest
chooses items from the normal menu.
The third program will be New
Year at Sedona, with two subprograms under it.
The New Year’s Eve Party 2017 will
be from 7pm (Saturday, December
31) until 1am. Guests can pick from
a range of meals – costing $89, $99,
$129, $139 to $149 per head – with
unique opportunities for each.

Christmas log cake, one of the goodies available at Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake. 
Photo: Supplied

Then there’s the New Year’s Day
Hangover Brunch where guests can
enjoy delicious food between 11am
and 3:30pm. The cost per head is
about $20.

Sule Shangri-La Yangon
223, Sule Pagoda Road
Phone: +951 242 828
The downtown Sule Shangri-La
Yangon has rolled out four different
programs.
The first, Christmas Feast @
Café Sule, will be the Christmas
Eve Dinner and Christmas Day
Dinner, each from 6:30 to 10pm, and
entertainment by a Christmas Choir
on both days. The $55 net dinner
will include a buffet with free flow
of drinks. There is also a Christmas
Brunch on Christmas Day from
noon to 3pm with a Christmas Choir
in attendance. The $50 net brunch
includes a buffet with free flow of
beer, wine and soft drinks.
The New Year’s Eve Dinner @ Café

Sule is from 6:30pm to 10pm. The $55
net dinner per head will consist of a
buffet with free flow of drinks. For an
additional $20 net, a guest can join
the New Year’s Eve Countdown at
Peacock Lounge from 9pm to 1am.
If one only intends to attend
the New Year’s Eve Countdown at
Peacock Lounge from 9pm to 1am,
canapés will be served with a free
flow of sparkling wine, house wine,
beer, soft drinks and special festive
cocktails. It will cost $38 net. There
will also be live entertainment and a
lucky draw.
The other program, Gallery Bar
Christmas Turkey & Cocktails, will
be held throughout the month of
December from 3 to 11pm. For $18
net, one gets a special turkey platter
and Christmas cocktails.

Rose Garden Hotel Yangon
171, Upper Pansodan Road
Phone: +951 371 992
Rose Garden Hotel Yangon has

planned two programs, one each on
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
The Christmas Eve Dinner at
$60 net per person starts at 7pm and
includes a welcome cocktail plus free
flow of draught beer, house wine and
soft drinks.
The culinary spread includes
amuse bouche (marinated ponzu
salmon with crème fraîche, nashi
pear), appetiser (fresh rock lobster
tartare served with sesame rice
cracker, salmon roe), soup (sweet
potato soup served with truffle ravioli
and orange flavour), two choices of
main course (roasted stuffed wild rice
turkey served with cranberry purée,
king oyster mushroom mille-feuille,
confit baby carrot, asparagus and
ginger bread sauce; or, herb scented
pork chop served with beet root and
chestnut fricassee ratatouille, creamy
grain mustard glaze) and dessert
(warm Christmas pudding served
with raspberry sorbet, fresh vanilla
pods and Grand Marnier cream).
The New Year’s Eve Dinner will
cost $80 net per person and the door
opens at 7:30pm. There is an early
bird discount for the first 100 tickets,
and if a person buys 9 they will get 1
free. VIP packages are also available.
There will also be a traditional dance
performance, and a live band and DJ
in attendance.

Lounge is also offering Christmas
goodies throughout the whole month
of December.
The Christmas Gala Dinner, an
international buffet with roasted
turkey and many more festive dishes,
will cost $45 net per person. There
will also be complementary free flow
of selected drinks.
The New Year’s Eve Party begins
at 7pm, and there will be special
performances by vocalists Chit
Kaung, Sithu Lwin, Chan Chan and
Eaint Chit, accompanied by the
Immortal band. The international
buffet dinner will include free flow
of wine, beer and soft drinks. Ticket
prices are $140 per person for
Premium Class and $120 for First
Class. The $400 New Year Night
Room Package includes one-night
deluxe accommodation plus New
Year’s Eve party tickets for two
persons.
The net prices for Christmas
goodies, also available for purchase
at Chatrium, are: roasted turkey
(whole, 5-6kg) $130, Christmas
cake/Christmas log cake (chocolate/
vanilla/coffee, 1lb) $15, stollen bread
(per slice) $10, Christmas cookies
(1box, 250g) $4 and Christmas fruit
cake (1lb) $15.
Translation by
San Lay, Win Thaw Tar and Zaw Nyunt

Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon
40, Natmauk Street
Phone: +951 544 500
To welcome this Christmas, the
Emporia Restaurant at Chatrium
Hotel Royal Lake Yangon will
present Christmas Gala Dinners on
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The New Year’s Eve Party at Ngapali
Pool Garden will be themed Viva Las
Vegas “What Happens in Vegas, Stays
in Vegas!” Besides that, the Lobby

The downtown Sule Shangri-La. 
Photo: Thiri Lu

6

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Making time
for worship too

Some Christmas and
New Year Church
Services in Yangon
Rev Judson Memorial Church
Yangon University compound
Phone: +951 536 570

A season to remember…
In Myanmar, many bask in the holiday mood, and definitely so for those who celebrate Christmas
and the New Year. Here, some reflect on how they enjoy the festivities with friends and family.
AUNG KYAW NYUNT

During my school years, we had real fun time
during Christmas. We exchanged gifts with our
beloved friends and wrote acknowledgement
notes on “thank you” cards to express how
important we were to each other. My first ever
Christmas gift was a toy gun from one of my
close friends while attending secondary school.

And, of course, the last Christmas gift was most
unforgettable, a surprise cake with “Christmas
gift from Santa” written on it. We were happy
not only because the school was closed, but also
because Christmas was a family reunion day
for us. During school days, it was hard to meet
up with family members and talk to each other.
Every year during Christmas holidays, our family
would travel around and we had a very productive
time together. However, as time passed by, I
found out that Christmas wasn’t just about
exchanging gifts and travelling, but also about

caring and understanding one another. It’s about
helping and supporting needy people to celebrate
the holy day joyfully. Amidst our celebration this
Christmas, let us pause a while to look around
us and recognise how lucky we are to have what
we have. Let us do the little within our means
to alleviate the pain and misery in the lives of
the less fortunate brothers and sisters. Let us do
whatever little thing we can to give them the hope
that triumph will one day wipe out the sadness in
their hearts. Let us embrace the joy of Christmas
by giving. Merry Christmas, Myanmar!

Nyein Chan Thu
Media Manager, Huawei Technologies (Yangon) Co. Ltd

Pyae Phyo Bo Bo
Manager, Citizen Journal

Nyi Nyi
Editor, Technology Online Media

Pwint Oo Swe
Marketing Communications Director, Ooredoo Myanmar

411, Mahabandoola Street
Phone: +951 250 079

Loves decorated Christmas trees

December is his favourite month

Missing friends and Christmas carols

New Year is a time for family reunions

Christmas Eve: 11pm
Christmas Day:
6:30am, 8:30am, 4pm
New Year’s Eve: 11 pm
New Year’s Day:
6:30am, 8:30am, 4pm
(Communion service)

I enjoy both the Myanmar and the English
new years and would always be excited
about them, realising that it is a transition
from the old to the new year. I love the sight
of decorated Christmas trees welcoming
this festive season. I have always used to
love Christmassy things from young. The
holiday season is always the most wonderful
time of the year and is my favourite since
I would be anticipating and planning a
trip with my dear friends in December. At
midnight, when the old year ends and the
new one begins, our family members would
greet each other “Happy New Year” and we
kids would pay obeisance to our parents
with gifts.

My favourite month is December because I always
like the cool winter and not the warm season. In
December, we have Christmas and then the New
Year follows, which brings back a lot of memories
and nostalgic feelings. There would be carols in
the air and symbols of Santa Claus everywhere.
When I was young, there would be exchanging of
gifts during Christmas in my school. We would
wear lapel pins on our shirts and feel very happy.
Most of my friends are Christians, so Christmas
is nothing strange to me. With my friends, I would
usually sing Christmas carols in their houses. I
would even help out in their Christmas charity
events. I am not sure what I am going to do this
year, but would try not to miss both – going on a
trip and singing carols.

I do not have any special feeling for
Christmas, but I do miss those times when
I would go around at night with my friends
from Insein singing carols. It’s been a
long time since I’ve met with them, and I
really miss all of them. The weather is very
pleasant in December and during the New
Year season. It’s a perfect time to go on trips.
No wonder this time of the year is designated
as the peak travel time for tourists and
locals. Winter in Yangon is not as cold as in
the northern or hilly regions of Myanmar,
so people go to towns like Pyin Oo Lwin to
experience the cold.

I hope all my friends will feel as happy as I am
during this December and New Year season.
I’m sure they would have all their aspirations
fulfilled during this past year. As people get
their days off, they can spend quality time
with their families and have loving fellowship
with them. Family outings would bring
happy memories. My wish for everyone is
that they will be happy and prosperous, and
that whatever they wish for materialises in
the coming auspicious New Year. May their
sweet dreams come true and their life path be
smooth.

Mo Lwin
Managing Director, Peak Point Academy

Christmas Eve:
10:30pm (praise & worship service)
Christmas Day:
4pm (service led by
Sunday School children)
New Year’s Eve:
10:30pm (praise & worship service)
New Year’s Day:
4pm (Communion service)

Overwhelmed by Christmas memories

Hebron Brethren Assembly
Church
2, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road
Phone: +951 660 390

Christmas Day:
8:30am (praise & worship service,
lunch provided)
New Year’s Eve:
5pm (Communion service)

St. Mary’s Cathedral

372, Bo Aung Kyaw Street
Phone: +951 245 647
Christmas Eve: 11pm
New Year’s Eve: 11 pm

Immanuel Baptist Church
Churches hold special services, Bible verse memorising and singing contests during the Christmas season.  Photo: AFP

While they are preparing to ring in the celebrations, Christians here spend
much time on church activities too
STAFF WRITERS

B

UDDHISM, Christianity,
Islam and Hinduism are the
four major religions in the
world, each having its own traditions
and festivals. Those professing
Christianity top the list at 31.5
percent of the global population, or
2.2 billion of the world’s population
of 7.4 billion.
According to information
released in July by Myanmar’s
Ministry of Labour, Immigration
and Population, Christians make
up 6.9pc (over three million) of
Myanmar’s total population of

51.4 million, second only to the
predominant 89.8pc of Buddhists.
Shan State has the largest number
of Christians, nearly 570,000.
Kachin State is a close second, with
555,000. But the states with the
highest proportions of Christians
are Chin State (more than 85pc) and
Kayah State (nearly 46pc).
As Christmas season approaches,
Christians around the world,
including Myanmar, are looking
forward to celebrations and
festivities. Christmas marks the birth
of Jesus Christ whom Christians
worship as God’s son and saviour of
the world. Christians in Myanmar
have been commemorating

Christmas for centuries.
It’s a merry season for everyone
because schools are closed for
about two weeks after holding their
second-term exams (out of three
terms), and some companies and
offices are also closed for at least 10
days. Many take the time to go on
vacation during these holidays.
It’s also a beautiful sight to
behold with buildings, banks, hotels,
shopping centres, churches and
public locations in cities like Yangon
being decorated with Christmas
trees, lighting and all sorts of
decorations.
Much is centred around the
places of worship. Churches

hold special services, Bible verse
memorising and singing contests,
games, group carolling around the
neighborhood and the exchanging
of gifts are commonplace. Some
churches hold midnight services on
the eve. Some also hold fun events
for kids and the old throughout the
day on Christmas Day itself.
These kinds of activities are not
limited to Christians as others also
get into the spirit and participate
in the festival. There are fairs and
special sales held at shopping centres
and public recreational places such
as playgrounds and parks.
Translation by
Emoon, San Layy and Win Thaw Tar

Christ Methodist Church
3, Thukha Road, Kamayut,
Hlaing township
Phone: +951 524 527

Christmas Day: 9:30am, 1pm
New Year’s Eve: 8pm

St. John the Baptist Armenian
Apostolic Orthodox Church
66, Bo Aung Kyaw Street
Phone: +951 242 318

Christmas celebrated January 6
morning (time to be determined)

Photos: Supplied
Translation by San Layy and Emoon

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Casabella One-stop Luxury Home Furnishing Centre
22, Pyay Road, 9 Mile, Mayangone township, Yangon
Tel: 01-660769, 664363

5 e’ko Office Solution

Bld A2, G floor; Shwe Gabar Housing, Mindama Road,
Mayangone township, Yangon
Tel: 01-652391, +959-73108896

6 EMPIRE HOLDING Co., Ltd.

393, Lower Kyeemyindaing Road, Ahlone township, Yangon
Tel: +959-73083188

7 Rinnai Showrooms
Model: TG66 G31
Freestanding Gas Hob
Unit Price: K1,289,000
Discount Price: K1,160,100

Free Gi
Model: DGF 90
Wall Chimney Hood

6

Model: Bahia 1B
Inset Sink
Unit Price: K259,000
Discount: K233,100

Free Gi
Model: Polo
Cool Tap

HT001LEX
Spinner 29”
Expendable
K340,000

Yangon Showroom. A 3, Aung San Stadium East - Noh Wing,
MingalarTaung Nyunt township, Yangon Tel: 01-245543, 09-73903736
Room: 4006/B, 3rd floor; Taw Win Centre, Dagon township, Yangon
Tel: 09-73037772
A-13, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, near Gandamar Road comer;
Mayangone township

10

11

Six ways to avoid
a festive financial
hangover
The business of retailers is to get you to
buy their goods. Your business is to look
after your money.
JANE BROWN
Graduate Tutor
(Lecturer and PhD candidate),
Northumbria University, Newcastle

T

HE shopping frenzy of Black
Friday and Cyber Monday
are the starting gun for many
to the annual ritual of excessive
spending over the Christmas
Christmas should be enjoyed but it should not impact your finances for months to
come.  Photo: Staff

period. The average Black Friday
consumer was expected to spend
£203 (US$253) on the day this year,
a double of last year’s figure.
Christmas is expensive; in 2015,
the average UK household spent
a considerable £800 ($998) on
Christmas, with 75 percent of that
allocated to gifts. Similar figures,
or higher, are anticipated this year,
despite shoppers’ concerns about
the overall UK economy.
Meanwhile, the average UK
adult currently has £3737 ($4663)
of consumer credit debt, and
44pc of UK adults have savings
amounting to less than £100
($125). Considering these figures, a
surge in high cost credit borrowing
by UK consumers is expected as
families stretch themselves to
their financial limits to afford
Christmas.
Pressure to overspend
Last year, a quarter of Britons felt
pressure to overspend at Christmas.
Pressure from children was the
greatest factor, closely followed
by Black Friday and similar
promotions which make people
feel like they would otherwise be
missing out on a bargain.
Parents often fondly remember
their own Christmas experiences,
which they try to emulate (or
better) for their own children.
Some parents also feel pressure to
out-do their previous Christmas
efforts leading to an unattainable

cycle of more: more presents,
more food, more alcohol, more
merriment – all of which results
in more spending. Combined
with a layering of festive imagery
from the obligatory Christmas TV
adverts, and the pressure rapidly
mounts.
The more perceptive will also
notice an increase in money lending
adverts; helpfully offering “easy”
money, but skimming over the
high repayment costs. This can
encourage taking expensive credit
to pay for the extravagance of
Christmas.
As part of my PhD research, I
have been exploring consumers’
experiences of high cost credit. I’ve
found that parents in particular
find Christmas a tricky time of
year. They tend to take higher
amounts of credit, but pay less
attention to the repayment
conditions, particularly APR
(annual percentage rate). The
findings indicate that nearly
everyone who overstretched their
finances subsequently regretted
their decisions to take high cost
credit. Almost half of the parents
I interviewed were paying off
their Christmas spending into the
following August or September.
Parents often said they could have
spent less on “meaningless gifts”
that children soon discarded and
more time engaging with their
children on a personal level.
A key issue is the convenience

of buying online. With a couple of
clicks, and without really looking
at your bank account, you can shop
to your heart’s content. Retailers
know this. Last year, 60pc of Black
Friday sales were made online.
Cashing in on this detail, Amazon
has announced a “helpful” sales
extension that will drag out Black
Friday sales for a staggering 12
days. Yet who does this really
benefit – parents looking to grab
a bargain, or retailers looking to
cash in by lengthening the festive
season?
Retailers are businesses. They
want to capitalise on aspirations to
create a perfect Christmas, luring
you into their stores and websites
with attractive deals. As such,
the pressure to spend money has
never been greater. Black Friday
may signal the start of Christmas
shopping, but be realistic: are
the excesses of Christmas worth
months of frugal living in 2017?

Here are six ways you
can better manage your
spending.
1. Make a budget: Recognise
how much you can, or want to
actually spend, and stick to it. If
you do need to borrow money,
give yourself enough time to look
for the best repayment plans.
2. Make a list: Plan the gifts,
food, decorations, and whatever
else you would like to purchase
for Christmas. Then look for the
best deal.
3. Say no to impulse buys: If
you haven’t planned to buy it, do
you really need it? You still have
to pay for it, even if something
appears to be a bargain. If you
struggle with this, sleep on it
before buying. This gives you
time to think about it, and
research the best price.
4. Beware of marketing ploys:
Be aware of retailer tricks. For
example, online purchases over
certain amounts often offer free
delivery. Do not be tempted to
buy more, just for free delivery.
The business of retailers is to
get you to buy their goods. Your
business is to look after your
money.
5. Buy thoughtfully:
Meaningless gifts are one of
the biggest culprits of debt
accumulation. Last year, the
most unwanted presents
included selfie sticks and
workout DVDs. A sensible
approach is to ask people what
they would like. Children can
make a list for Santa. And
remember, young children do not
always value highly priced items.
They are often more excited
by the packaging and colourful
wrapping paper.
6. Have fun, but think longerterm: Christmas is a celebration.
Enjoy yourself, and enjoy making
those around you happy. But this
celebration should not impact
your finances for months and
months afterwards.

How to make
your New Year’s
resolutions work
Time for a reset and a fresh start –
and get science on your side
LISA A WILLIAMS
Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology,
UNSW Australia

N

EW Year’s resolutions
are set with the best of
intentions. But they
notoriously fail to translate into
lasting behavioural changes.
The new gym membership falls
into disuse come February; items
forbidden from the new diet sneak
back into the pantry by March. Even
goals to work less and spend more
time with friends and family seem
to fall by the wayside almost as soon
as the holiday break is over and the
brimming email inbox beckons.
But recent psychological research
highlights several reasons why these
kinds of resolutions might actually
work – as well as simple ways to set
yourself up for success.

The fresh start effect
A series of recent studies supports
the idea that the start of a new
calendar year spurs initiation
of activities related to selfimprovement. They show Google
searches for the term “diet”, gym
attendance, and use of goal-support
websites are highest in January and
decline month by month over time.
Researchers doing the studies
call it the “fresh start effect”
– the idea that particular days
and dates serve as temporal
landmarks, much like physical
landmarks serve as demarcations
of important places. In the case
of temporal landmarks, the
demarcation is between a past self,
who has perhaps failed to meet
goals, and the present self, who
has goal pursuit at their fingertips.
An additional set of studies,
published recently in the journal
Psychological Science by the same
team, looked into this effect in
more detail. In one experiment,
participants asked to think about
New Year’s Day as a meaningful day
visited more websites related to
goal-support (and spent more time
browsing them) than those who
were asked to think about it as an
ordinary day.
Directly speaking to the idea
that a temporal landmark mentally
separates people from their past
selves, another experiment in the
series established that framing
a character in a short story as
experiencing a new beginning
led participants to perceive that
character as different from whom
they’d been in the past.
Importantly, that past/present
differentiation statistically
explained the effect of the
new beginning on how much
participants believed the character
would pursue a previously unmet
goal. In other words, the reason
why goal pursuit flows from a new

beginning is because of a perceived
separation from past selves.
Another reason why temporal
landmarks may work to promote goal
pursuit is that they spur a search for
meaning in life. Research from 2014
shows people whose ages end in the
digit 9 (29, for instance, or 39, and so
on) report more desire for having a
sense of meaning in life.
It’s not far-fetched to imagine
that the end of the year (rather
than a decade) might spur similar
soul-searching. And that, in turn,
can engender goals for selfimprovement.
Effective New Year’s resolutions
There are several ways to set
yourself up for success with your
New Year’s resolution. Here are
a few relatively easy, researchsupported methods.
Let the calendar be your guide:
the “fresh start” research discussed
above shows a similar goal-boosting
effect for the start of the month
(with activity peaking at the 1st of
the month and declining towards
the 30th or 31st). It even works for
the start of the week (with activity
peaking on Monday and declining
through to Sunday). And there’s

The start of a new calendar year spurs initiation of activities related to selfimprovement.  Photo: AFP

also a boost around birthdays and
national holidays.
Clearly, the calendar itself can
help in re-committing to goals.
From this view, “a case of the
Mondays” could be the impetus
to revisit the gym, shut off email
in the evening, or trade spaghetti
bolognese for salad.
Don’t go it alone: setting a goal
with friends can be the setup for
success. One research study found
signing up for a weight-loss program
with friends and having that social
support reinforced over time resulted
in an increase from 75 percent to 95pc
in course completion. It even resulted
in an increase from 24pc to 66pc in
weight-loss maintenance, compared
to signing up alone and receiving
treatment not focused on social
support.
As you ring in the New Year, look
around for those with whom you can
set collective resolutions.
Set a range: Many people
are tempted (or even told) to
set a specific goal. But research
suggests that setting a range for a
goal (planning to lose five to ten

kilograms) rather than a specific
target (aiming to lose eight kilos)
will likely be more effective.
In research where participants
were given a bag of M&Ms and
asked to eat as few as possible across
25 minutes, the average consumed
five. But participants who set a
range goal of how many M&Ms to
eat (on average, between three and
eight) rather than a specific number
(on average, five) reported that their
goal seemed simultaneously more
challenging and more attainable.
They also felt more accomplished
at the end of the 25 minutes as well
as more interested in pursuing the
goal again. The researchers who
did that study found similar effects
across a range of contexts, including
weight loss and spending money.
These tactics will help you
leverage the “fresh start” of the New
Year to get ahead. Let the rhythm of
the calendar push you, find a buddy,
and set a range for your resolution.
Science will be on your side.

12

13

Gifts of

tech

Here are some
products worth
looking at if your
goal is connectivity
AUNG KYAW NYUNT

Translation by Zaw Nyunt

More cheer for wine

Samsung Mobile Phones and Tablets

Lenovo Notebook

KMD sales and service centre (550/552, Merchant Street,
Yangon), its branches and authorised Lenovo distributors
around the country are holding a US$25-50 cash-back
holiday sales on Lenovo notebooks throughout the
holiday season up to December 31 (incentive offered to
buyers whereby they receive a refund after making their
purchase). Cash-backs for Lenovo Notebooks are: $25
for Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium (four times more
cache memory than Celeron), $35 for Intel Core i3 (cache
memory 3-4 megabyte), $40 for Intel Core i5 (6MB) and
$50 for Intel Core i7 (8MB).

Lenovo Vibe K4 Note Smartphone

Launched in January, the Lenovo Vibe
K4 Note has a 5.5-inch touchscreen with
a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels,
and 13MP primary and 5MP secondary
cameras. It includes a 1.3GHz (gigahertz)
octa-core processor with 3GB RAM. The
phone packs 16GB of internal storage.
Now at a special holiday discount, the
device, previously sold at K319,000,
can be bought at K249,000.

Cash refunds of K10,000 to K40,000 and gifts
worth K20,000 to K70,000 will be offered to
buyers of Samsung Galaxy mobile phones and
tablets during the festive month of December.
Gifts vary depending on models purchased. Cash
refunds are K10,000 for the Samsung J1 (2016)
and J2; K15,000 for J2 Prime, J3, On7, J7 (2016),
J7, J5 Prime and 7-inch Tab J; up to K25,000 for
J7 Prime, 8-inch Tab A LTE and
10.1-inch Tab A; and up to
K40,000 for A7 (2016),
A9 Pro, Note 5, S7
Edge, 8-inch Tab S2
VE, and 9.7-inch
Tab S2 VE.

To both ambitious newcomers and well-established companies,
there’s a good future for it in Myanmar because of changing tastes
and trends – no longer is the drink the preserve of the rich
ZAY YAR LINN

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Smartphone

Ooredoo G9 Keypad Phone

G9 handsets from Ooredoo, a foreign-based
telecommunications operator, normally cost
K20,000 in the market. As a holiday discount,
Cyber City Co. Ltd (7, Kyauk Kone Street, Yankin
township, Yangon) will be selling these handsets
at K15,000. The device has features that support
2G and 3G networks and is a keypad type with
850mAh (milliampere-hour) battery and VGA
(video graphics array) camera, equivalent to
0.3 megapixel. Along with a one-year warranty,
Ooredoo G9 has dual SIM and instant share on
Facebook social media.

The Redmi 3, priced at K175,000
when released in January by
Xiaomi Inc, the world’s 4th
largest smartphone maker, is
now on sale at a festival price
of K165,000. The Android
(Lollipop) OS (operating
system) version 5.1 device has
dimensions of 5.48 x 2.74 x 0.33
inches with dual SIM (subscriber
identification module) and two
cameras – the 13MP (mega
pixels) primary and the 5MP
secondary. With an internal
memory of 32GB (gigabyte)
and 3GB RAM (random access
memory), the smartphone
comes with a one-year warranty.
Produced in four colours – gold,
dark gray, silver and classic gold
– it is available at all Mi Home’s
mobile shops in Yangon (443,
Lower Kyeemyindaing Road) and
other towns.

N

UMBER crunching, stylish
corporate executive Kalyar
Zaw is striving to sell wine
in a Myanmar market known to
strongly favour beer, hard liquor
and locally brewed toddy. A wine
lover herself, Kalyar, the chief
operating officer of Apex Hospitality
Group, wants to capture the
domestic wine market, though it
may sound a little ambitious based
on the present market situation.
However, the graduate in
Business Administration and
Hospitality from Australia points to
changing consumer tastes among
the more affluent in society and sees
the opportunity to tap the niche
market with her young and dynamic
sales team.
“Slowly, the middle class in
Myanmar is learning to appreciate
wine. In social and family
gatherings that are increasing these
days, more people are targetting
wine instead of hard liquor or beer.
Drinking wine and champagne is
becoming fashionable too. People
want the classy image, and they are
also influenced by social media and

television [serials],” she told The
Myanmar Times.
Like many other things, the
wining and dining scene appears
to be changing fast in Myanmar,
thanks to lifestyle changes,
the influence of expatriates,
and Myanmar citizens who are
returning home. Kalyar plans to
build Apex’s business on that.
Her company’s figures speak
volumes. From May to November
this year, sales jumped 29 percent,
while October-November sales rose
by 49.9pc. The average increase
since January is 30-35pc.
According to dealers, rough
estimates show wine consumption
stood at 6pc in 2010, rising to 9pc
two years later. This year could see
an incremental rise to 18pc.
At present about 25 companies,
including Apex, are permitted
to import wine into Myanmar,
compared to only half the number
five years ago, which clearly mirrors
the growing demand.
A wide range of imported wine,
priced from as low as US$10 to $200
per bottle, depending on the quality,
is now available here.
Wine dealers say more people
prefer to clink wine at social events

Kalyar Zaw, chief operating officer of Apex Hospitality Group, wants to capture the
domestic wine market.  Photo: Supplied

over quiet conversations and be
sober rather than have a rough night
out and wake up with a hangover the
next morning.
“Wine culture is very refined.
Here we see a large number of beer
stations and teashops, but sooner
or later there will be a surge in wine
culture, and more people will be
drinking wine than before. Most
social gatherings offer only entre
wines, though,” said Mya Sandar
Min, director of IKON Mart, which
imports wines from France, Italy
and New Zealand.
At present, IKON imports
five brands, with prices ranging
from over K10,000 to a little over
K100,000 per bottle.
Since wine is free-flow at many
receptions, hosts offer average
priced, affordable wine costing not
more than $10 a bottle.
According to Mya Sandar Min,
locals also consume wine for health
reasons.
Imported wine and champagne
brands are hitting the shelves and
squeezing in between popular
beer and whisky bottles in cafés
and hotels. Two local vineyards
– Aythaya and the Red Mountain
Estate Vineyards & Winery,
in northern Shan State – also
produce their own brands for local
consumption.
Wine drinking is still
concentrated among a small group.
According to a 2010 World Bank
report, only 6pc of the Myanmar
market consumed wine, while the
majority 82pc preferred beer and
12pc enjoyed spirits. However, those
figures are far better compared
to neighbouring Thailand and
Vietnam where only 1pc drinks
wine.
There is a potential for wine
demand to rise even higher,
say industry experts, due to the
emerging middle class, new
international hotels, the expanding
tourism and hospitality sector,

Mya Sandar Min, director of IKON Mart, which imports wines from France, Italy and New
Zealand.  Photo: Aung Khant

swelling businesses and the
dismantling of international
sanctions. However, it could be
a challenge for distributors like
Kalyar Zaw and Mya Sandar Min
to compete in the domestic alcohol
beverages market, which is largely
controlled by beer and alcohol
producers.
Major breweries like Carlsberg,
Heineken and Myanmar Brewery
Limited are already in the market
with local brews at affordable prices.
According to the Ministry of
National Planning and Economic
Development, alcohol and beer
production in Myanmar was 41.8
million gallons during the 2014-15
fiscal year, almost double that of the
26 million gallons in 2012-13, clearly
indicating beer consumption was
still high in the country.
According to earlier media
reports, researcher agency
Euromonitor International
estimated the Myanmar beer
market was worth $375 million in
2015 and that by 2018 it would reach
$675 million.
Besides that, other players like
the International Beverage Trading
Company Group that controls 80pc
of the local whisky market, with
brand names like Grand Royal

Double Gold Whisky, Royal Dry Gin
and Eagle Whisky, may add pressure
to the wine market.
There are also silent competitors
like the traditional palm wine
(locally known as toddy), rum and
rice wine drinks that are widely
consumed in rural areas.
Yadana Lin, IKON Mart’s
business development manager,
admits that growing the wine
market will not be easy because of
local drinking habits, but says there
is a changing trend in consumption.
“It is a different market because
of the drinking culture here. I
would say it is not very difficult
to sell. People can at least afford
entre wine and they need to have
more knowledge about wine. It is
a targeted market, and we need to
consider education background,
culture and lifestyle.
“I am positive that wine
culture will grow. More hotels
and restaurants are opening wine
bottles and people want to enjoy a
quiet drink these days. And due to
the dangers of illegally produced
alcohol, which is harmful to health,
people will switch to wine,” she
added.
Translation by
San Layy and Kyawt Darly

SPECIAL PROMOTIONS FOR CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR

Parkroyal Hotel

Christmas Special Buffet Dinner at
Spice Brasserie Restaurant
Date : December 23, 24 and 25, 2016
US$50 nett per person including free flow of house
wine (red & white), draught beer,
juice and soft drinks.
Christmas Special Buffet Dinner
Enjoy our special buffet:
- Carving includes Roasted Turkey,
- Various kinds of Seafood
- Indian Live Station
- Pasta–risotto with truffles and pumpkin
- Outdoor BBQ Station
Tel: 951-250388

Sule Shangri-La

NYE Countdown @
Peacock Lounge
US$38 net
(December 31, 2016)
9pm to 1am
Pass around canapes with
free flow of sparkling wine,

Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake
New Year’s Eve Party
VIVA LAS VEGAS “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas!”
December 31, 2016
(Saturday) 7pm onwards,
Ngapali Pool Garden

house wine, beer and
soft drinks, special festive
cocktails
Live Entertainment
Lucky Draw
Gallery Bar Christmas
Turkey & Cocktails
US$18 net
3pm to 11pm
Offer special Turkey Platter and Christmas cocktails
whole month of December
Tel: 951-242828
Special Performance By
- Chit Kaung, Si Thu Lwin,
Chan Chan, Eaint Chit
Dinner Ticket Price
Premium Class – US$140 per
person , First Class – US$120
per person
New Year Night Room Package
– US$400 per package
One-Night Deluxe Accommodation plus Party Tickets
for 2 persons on Dec 31, 2016

Novotel Hotel

Christmas Eve Promotion
• Saturday, Dec 24
6pm to 10:30pm
• Sunday, Dec 25

12pm to 2:30pm
Savour The Passions of
France with a 5-course set
menu with Chef’s signature
creations for a charming
intimate evening.
US$66 ++ per person with
one glass of bubbly.
New Year’s Eve Promotion
• Saturday, Dec 31
7pm to 1am

The promotion at
The Market restaurant
Dec 24, 2016 Christmas Eve
Dinner - $70, but early booking & paying until December
17 will get special deal, $60
Dec 25, 2016 Christmas Lunch $52, but early booking &
paying until December 17 will
get special deal, $45
Kids offer
0-5 years old – Free of charge

6-11 years old – 50% off
Special Food & Drinks
• Items - Roasted turkey and
goose, turkey stuffing, grill station (grilled pork neck, seared
foie gras), roasted ribs, seafood,
Asian noodles, antipasti, curries,
Japanese station, delicacies
in delicate room (Ibérico ham,
variety of cheeses and bread)
and others.
• Desserts - Homemade icecream, cupcakes and cakes
(Christmas fruit cake, profiteroles,
etc.).
• Drinks - Red and white wine,
beer, sparkling wine and soft
drinks are included.
Tel: 951-9345000

CHRISTMAS SPECIALS
Come and celebrate a joyous
Christmas with us this holiday
season.
Christmas GALA DINNER
At the Emporia Restaurant
December 24 and 25, 2016
US$45 nett per person.
International Buffet with
roasted turkey and many
more festive dishes.
Complimentary free-flow

selected drinks.
Christmas Goodies
At the lobby lounge
December 1-31, 2016
Roasted Turkey - US$130
nett
(Whole Turkey - 5-6 kg)
Christmas cake (1lb) US$15 nett
Christmas Log Cake
(1lb) - US$15 nett
(Chocolate/Vanilla/

MELIA Hotel

French Chef Brice CARO
will take you into the
culinary journey up to 2017.
Bubbles & DJ Bay Tar beats
on the terrace for the NEW
YEAR Countdown.
US$86 ++ per person with
one glass of bubbly.
Wine pairing options from
our wine collection.
Tel: 09-251185973

Summit Parkview

December 2016 & January
2017 Promotion
International Buffet
(every Saturday)
@ K16,000
nett per person
(except December 24)

15

Filipino-style Christmas
MYO LWIN

N

O one celebrates Christmas
quite as lavishly and as
earnestly as the Philippines,
where carols are heard as early as
September and right into January.
It is said to be one of the longest
Christmas seasons in the world too!
The Southeast Asian nation
is home to 98 million people, of
which 90 percent are Christians.
The Philippines is one of the two

predominantly Christian nations in
Asia. The other is tiny East Timor.
The official observance of
Christmas by the Church in the
Philippines is from the beginning of
the Simbang Gabi (Filipino for “Night
Mass” and the start of a nine-day
series of Masses) on December 16
until the Feast of the Epiphany on the
first Sunday of the year.
Christmas activities, like sales
of gifts and decorations, kick off
as early as October. The paról
(Christmas lantern) is one of the

most iconic and beloved symbols
during the season.
Noel Kalayanan owns a shop
that sells the special lanterns in
the Luzon city of Clark. He said
a starfish-shaped lantern sells
for about US$20 and nearly 200
lanterns are easily sold every year
during the festival season.
At the city of Clark, which once
hosted the United States naval base,
hotels, restaurants and corporate
offices are illuminated with elegant
Christmas decorations.

Noel Kalayanan displaying his special lanterns.  Photo: Myo Lwin

Daily Happy Hour
From 7pm-9pm
One for one on draught
beer, wine & standard
pouring brand
All cocktails at 50% off
all night long
Tel: 951-211888,
211966, ext: 1508
Coffee)
Stollen Bread US$10 nett per slice
Christmas Cookies
(1Box 250g) - US$4 nett
Christmas Fruit Cake
(1lb) - US$15 nett
*All orders must be
placed at least one day
in advance.
Lobby Lounge:
951-544500, ext: 6221

A Filipino restaurant illuminated with Christmas decorations.  Photo: Myo Lwin

Men dressed as the Three Kings during an event to mark the end of the
Christmas season in the Philippines.  Photo: AFP