Being a multi-cultural society, it is no surprise that Singaporeans celebrate a variety of festivals in accordance to religious and cultural traditions. In Singapore, a festive celebration means more than just a public holiday, it also means that people from different races and communities are able to witness the celebrating community’s rites and rituals, and in some cases, join in the celebration. Listed below are some of the festive celebrations that are observed in this country, which if you are lucky, you might just be able to be a part of it!
Chinese New Year
This is one of the highlights of Singapore’s festive celebrations as it marks a brand new year for the Chinese community. Often you will see the Chinese decked in red outfits, be it their traditional cheongsam (Chinese dress) or in Western attires, carrying mandarin oranges to be exchanged with those they are visiting. This celebration is a highlight for many children as it means that they are receiving “hong bao” (an envelope filled with money) from the elders in their families. You will also see families getting together days before Chinese New Year for their reunion dinner, where more often than not, they will be tossing Yu Sheng (a medley of vermicelli and other food items) in the air for prosperity.
Hari Raya Puasa (Eid-ul-Fitri)
This is the celebration of the Muslim community, which largely consists of the Malays, in Singapore, where after a month of fasting from dawn to dusk, they are rewarded with a month’s long celebration. Often, you will find families dressed in the latest fashion of baju kurung (traditional Malay dresses for men and women) heading out to visit all their relatives and friends. This celebration also means a variety of food for all, where popular local Malay favourites, such as ketupat (rice cakes) and rending (beef simmered in coconut) are served in almost every household. The cakes and other delicacies are also not to be missed. Like the Chinese, the Muslim community also gives out “green packets” to the young and unmarried.
Known as the festival of lights, Deepavali (or as some call it Diwali) is celebrated by the Hindu community, mostly consisting of Indians, in Singapore. The Hindu community often starts their day with a visit to the temple for prayers followed by visits to homes of families and friends. Be prepared to get your sweet tooth on, as invites to the homes of your Hindu friends will mean a whole lots of Indian sweets! If it is possible, do take the time to head to the homes of your Hindu friends to observe them drawing up the “kolam” (elaborate and colourful drawing on the floors through the use of rice chalk or chalk powder). It is a sight not to be missed!
The celebration of Christmas Day is known pretty much across the globe, and in Singapore, this occasion, celebrated mainly by the Christians, is celebrated too. While there may not be a white Christmas in Singapore, some people in this country celebrate it with faux snow! The popular street of Orchard Road will be transformed each year as Christmas comes around the corner. Glittering lights and amazing décor will illuminate the well-known shopping street and the exterior of the malls will be decorated with different Christmas themed designs. In some areas of Singapore, you will hear carolers singing popular Christmas tunes and church bells ringing. Often, presents are exchanged amongst people of all races, as non-Christians sometimes do join in the festivities.
This is the day that the Buddhist community commemorates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. Most Buddhists in Singapore head to the temple and pray, often chanting sutras and followed by a candle procession. On this day, the Buddhist community often can be seen giving back to the community by feeding the less fortunate and giving out donations.