Most Singaporeans are multi lingual speaking people with their ancestry coming from many different Countries of origin, religions and heritage. As such Singapore boasts a large number of Singapore's polyglot population celebrates a number of festivals, cultural events and observances. Chinese, Hindu and Muslim celebrations follow a lunar calendar so dates of festivities vary from year to year.
Chinese New Year is one of the most celebrated events in Singapore and is also known as the Spring Festival or Luna New Year. It is by far the most important celebration for those of Chinese origin in Singapore and the festival mood begins 3 weeks prior to the day and throughout the Island colorful processions including lion dances with noisy firecrackers. It is good luck to exchange mandarins during the festivities.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated in January or February depending on the Luna cycle. Did you know that in Chinese tales there was a monster named ‘Nien’ that attacked simple farmers and villagers in early spring each year. The beast had a fear of the color red and loud noises so the only way to protect themselves and drive off the beast was to saturate the area with red and let of firecrackers.
Ramadan is the traditional time for abstinence and prayer for Muslims throughout the world. Practiced in the ninth month of the HijriCalender it is a month of fasting from dawn to dusk. It is estimated that 2 billion Muslims across the world adhere to Ramadan the holy month. Like the Chinese New Year the dates change every year as they are based on the luna cycle and it commences with the first sighting of the crescent moon.
Abstinence is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is meant to give focus and cleanse one’s soul. The meal before dawn is cal ‘Sahur’ and the meal after dusk is called ‘Iftar’. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the celebration of the end of Ramaan and is a three day joyous celebration going into the new month ‘Syawal’.
During Ramadan, food stalls are set up in the evening in the Arab Street district, near the Sultan Mosque. Hari Raya Puasa, the end of Ramadan in January or February, is marked by three days of joyful celebrations.
Vesak Day is in April or May and celebrates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. In Singapore the festivities to mark this day commence at the crack of dawn as Buddhists congregate for ceremonies at temples throughout the Island. Songs are sung in honor of Buddha and ‘Dharms’ his techings.
Offerings are made of candles and flowers that are to remind Buddhists that life is transient and fleeting and all things passon. During the day only vegetarian meals are allowed to be eaten and good deeds are done for the community distributing gifts to the needs, releasing birds and animals (to symbolize freeing captive souls) and chanting mantras. There are also public bathing’s where worshippers gather around pools and basins with the statue of the child Siddhartha.
In the evening there are candle lit processions throughout the streets. One of the best places to view is the PhorKark See Temple on Bright Hill Road.
The Dragon Boat Festival, is held in May or June, commemorates the death of aincorruptible Chinese minister of state who threw himself in a river that had man-eating fishlike dragon as a protest against government corruption. Legend has it that he was so loved by every day folk that fisherman and villages got into their boats and beat the water around him with oars to scare the fish away, others from the shore threw in rice wrapped in leaves in the hope the fish would eat the food rather than the minister.
The festival signifies the beating of oars with the furious way the boat rider’s row in an effort and the dragon shaped boats are to replicate the man eating dragon. It is an exciting spectacle and the best place to view is at Marina bay with boat races across it.
The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts is China’s version of Halloween. It is also known as Zhong Yuan Jie and is when the dead are given permission to raom the earth. It is usually celebrated in September on the 15th night of the 7th month of the lunar calendar and the ghosts will be friendly as long as they are not ignored and is a time for feasting and entertainment on earth. Chinese operas are performed for them and food is offered; the ghosts eat the spirit of the food but thoughtfully leave the substance for the mortal celebrants.
Metal bins will be placed outside houses and hell money, paper offerings and more are burnt to give families deceased relatives the material needs that need to be met in the afterlife. Large tents are also set up in estates Ang Mo Ko and Yishun where bawdy theatrics are carried out.
The festival of Thaipusam is one of the most dramatic Hindu festivals and is held on full moon in the Tamil month. Now banned in India devotees honor Lord Subramaniam with acts of amazing body-piercing masochism - definitely not for the squeamish. In Singapore, devotees march in procession from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road to the Chettiar Hindu Temple on Tank Road.
List of Public Holidays in Singapore
Holidays And Observances:
|1 Jan||Sat||New Year's Day|
|1 Feb||Tue||Chinese New Year|
|2 Feb||Wed||Chinese New Year Holiday|
|15 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|1 May||Sun||Labour Day|
|2 May||Mon||Labour Day Holiday|
|3 May||Tue||Hari Raya Puasa|
|15 May||Sun||Vesak Day|
|16 May||Mon||Vesak Day Holiday|
|10 Jul||Sun||Hari Raya Haji|
|11 Jul||Mon||Hari Raya Haji Holiday|
|9 Aug||Tue||National Day|
|25 Dec||Sun||Christmas Day|
|26 Dec||Mon||Christmas Holiday|
2022 School Holidays
|March Holidays: 12 Mar (Sat) - 20 Mar (Sun)|
|June Holidays: 28 May (Sat) - 26 Jun (Sut)|
|September Holidays: 3 Sep (Sat) - 11 Sep (Sun)|
|December Holidays: 19 Nov (Sat) - 31 Dec (Sat)|
|1. Youth Day: 3 July 2022 (Sunday)|
|Note: The following 4 July 2022 (Monday) will be a scheduled school holiday.|
|2. Day After National Day: 10 August 2022 (Wednesday)|
|3. Teachers’ Day: 2 September 2022 (Friday)|
|4. Children’s Day: 7 October 2022 (Friday)|
List of Public Holidays in Singapore 2023
|New Year's Day: 1 Jan, Sunday|
|Chinese New Year: 22 & 23 Jan, Sunday & Monday|
|Good Friday: 7 Apr, Friday|
|Hari Raya Puasa: 22 Apr, Saturday|
|Labour Day: 1 May, Monday|
|Vesak Day: 3 Jun, Saturday|
|Hari Raya Haji: 29 Jun, Thursday|
|National Day: 9 Aug, Wednesday|
|Deepavali: 12 Nov, Sunday|
|Christmas Day, 25 Dec, Monday|
List of school holidays 2023
|Holiday Monday, 3 April 2023 Friday, 14 April 2023|
|Holiday Monday, 26 June 2023 Friday, 21 July 2023|
|Holiday Monday, 25 September 2023 Friday, 6 October 2023|
|Holiday Thursday 14 December, 2023|