Holidays in Singapore
Singapore is a secular city-state, although it observes Chinese, Muslim, Indian, and Christian festivals owing to its heterogeneous population.
The year begins with a boom on January 1st, when Singaporeans, like those in the West, celebrate New Year with a fireworks display and parties at every nightclub in town. The wet and wild foam parties on the beaches of resort island Sentosa are particularly renowned – at least during those years when the authorities deign to allow such relative depravity.
The biggest celebration, by far, is Chinese New Year or, more politically acceptable, Lunar New Year, which is typically celebrated in late January or early February due to the influence of the Chinese majority. While this may seem to be an excellent time to come, many smaller businesses and eateries will be closed for two to three days during this time, but convenience stores, supermarkets, department stores, theaters, fast-food restaurants, and high-end restaurants will stay open. The entire festival lasts 42 days, but the frenzied build-up to the peak takes place just before the new moon’s night, with exhortations of gong xi fa cai (“congratulations and prosper”), red tinsel, mandarin oranges, and the year’s zodiac animal emblazoned everywhere and crowds of shoppers queuing in Chinatown, where there are also extensive street decorations to add sprightliness. The next two days are spent with family, and much of the island grinds to a halt, until life returns to normal… with the exception of the last burst of Chingay, a colorful parade near the Singapore Flyer, which takes place 10 days later.
The Dragon Boat Festival is held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar to honor a Chinese folk hero. Rice dumplings, which are often wrapped in pandan leaves instead of the traditional bamboo leaves in Singapore, are typically consumed as part of the festivities. On this day, dragon boat races are often conducted on the Singapore River. The Chinese lunar calendar’s seventh month, typically August, begins with a plume of smoke as “hell money” is burnt and food sacrifices are given to appease the spirits of ancestors who are believed to return to earth at this time. The Hungry Ghost Festival (), which takes place on the 15th day of the lunar calendar, is when the living gather to eat and watch plays and Chinese opera performances. The Mid-Autumn Festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month (Sep/Oct), is also a major event, with elaborate lantern decorations — particularly at Gardens by the Bay and Jurong’s Chinese Garden — and moon cakes filled with red bean paste, nuts, and other goodies being consumed merrily.
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a Hindu festival of lights that takes place in October or November, and Little India is beautifully adorned for the event. Thaipusam, a Tamil Hindu festival in which male devotees carry a kavadi, an elaborate structure that pierces through various parts of his body, and join a procession from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India to the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple in Tank Road, takes place around January–February. Instead of carrying pots of milk, female devotees typically join the procession. Thimithi, the fire-walking event, takes place around a week before Deepavali and features male worshippers walking on flaming coals at the Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown.
The Islamic month of Ramadan, and its celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, or Hari Raya Puasa as it is known in Malaysia, is a significant event in Malay areas of town, especially Geylang Serai on the East Coast, which is decked up with elaborate decorations. The Malays also commemorate Eid-ul-Adha, also known as Hari Raya Haji, which is the time when Muslims go to Mecca to conduct the Hajj ritual. Lambs donated by the devout are sacrificed at local mosques, and the flesh is fed to the needy.
The Buddhist Vesak Day, which commemorates the Buddha Sakyamuni’s birthday, is followed by the Christian holidays of Christmas Day, for which Orchard Road is lavishly adorned, and Good Friday.
On 9 August, National Day, fluttering flags fill Singapore and magnificent National Day parades are conducted to commemorate the country’s independence.
Events in Singapore
Every year, Singapore hosts a number of events. The Singapore Food Festival, the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix, the Singapore Arts Festival, the Chingay Parade, the World Gourmet Summit, and ZoukOut are just a few of the city’s well-known festivals and events.
Christmas is also extensively celebrated in Singapore, with the city streets and retail centers along Orchard Road, the city’s renowned shopping belt, lighted up and adorned in bright colors. Furthermore, the Singapore Jewel Festival, which is a showcase of rare stones, renowned jewels, and masterpieces from worldwide jewellers and designers, draws a large number of visitors each year.