Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Culture Xchange 2

- Family Friendly

Want to visit a country with many different races and fully immerse in their culture? Welcome to Singapore!

Singapore is a vivid example of mixed cultures where there are plenty of cultural events to celebrate throughout the entire year. During the festivities, ethnic parts and many of Singapore - Geylang, Little India and China Town add spice to the joyful ambiance of the festival.

Besides Deepavali and Christmas (which we've already covered here), there are three other festivals that are widely celebrated every year without fail - Hari Raya Pussa, Chinese New Year and the Mooncake Festival.

Are you already excited to know more about these festivals and where to head in Singapore to get the best atmosphere of these festivals? We'll be here to guide you and show you the best place to go at these festival season so you'll get the most memorable experiences right here!

Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb -check out Singapore's calendar HERE)
Place to go: Chinatown and Floating Platform @ Marina Bay

Hear the loud pops? It's Chinese New Year in the City!

It's time to head down to Chinatown and check out the dazzling lights and the numerous red lanterns all around the street. Red is the colour for Chinese New Year so get ready to be wow-ed by the red decor!

Countdown for Lunar New Year are always held right in the heart of Chinatown.
And with decorations and 'live' performances like these, who wants to watch the celebration on television when they can experience first hand themselves? With the firecrackers and fireworks that are an added bonus to the atmosphere, Chinatown is a must go this festive season!

Every new year brings a new Chinese Zodiac sign into the year. There are 12 in total and they are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. In Chinatown they will definitely be sculptures of these zodiacs! You get to know what awaits you this year with the fortune tellings of your zodiac signs under every sculpture. Everyone loves a photo with their zodiac sign and I'm sure, you will too!

So it's good bye daily snacks and hello traditional favourites. Without these goodies, we're missing a huge part of Chinese New year already.
With fast food out of the picture, it looks like we are making room for some love letters and pineapple tarts! To find these traditional snacks? Chinatown Chinatown and Chinatown. You'll get to find these anywhere at that time of the year but at Chinatown, there are much more variety! Now, let's head down to Chinatown to fill our bellies with all the free sampling and empty our wallets on the shopping! Not to forget the performances and decorations too!

Picking up the Chinese old-age tradition: married couples can grab some of the red packets and fill them with the dollar notes and lastly, present them to the young and single out there on Chinese New Year as a form of blessing to the receiver.

Red packets now are so creative and comes in so many types of designs that you will be so spoilt for choices. If you don't know what red packets are, fret not, there will be loads of red packets there that you could take a look and if you like, bring some home for souvenir at a low cost!

Chinese New Year celebrations certainly does not end all at Chinatown. After the visit to Chinatown, the next location will be The Floating Platform at Marina Bay .
The event River Hong Bao is held and where fireworks would be displayed at night.

This event is filled with a traditional arts and folklore from ancient China, you will find yourself awed away by the Chinese fruitful culture. The whole fairground was decorated with different floats of mythical creatures (Cerberus ), legendary heroes ( Kung Fu - Wong Fei Hung, etc) , Chinese gods, pagodas, cherry blossoms and more! This is a great place not just for learning about the facts of Chinese New Year but also to shop, watch performances and have fun! Children will love this colourful fairground where there is so much fun to have.

Performers and artisans are from selected provinces in China.

You can expect

  • Nightly cultural performances ranging from acrobatics to Chinese calligraphy.
  • Fortune tellers that can tell your future by reading your palm
  • Special Chinese zodiac reading of your birth sign
You should definitely come visit if you're interested to learn and experience our Chinese New Year customs first hand.

The last stop!
The Chingay parade is always a hit with lots of people swarming to this event. You should not give this a miss! It's Singapore's grandest street parade and party!

This event showcases our cultural roots in the form of parade and international performing groups will join us in this grand event! The colourful performers that will be marching pass you will be so beautiful, you might just be lost for words. The music, company and venue is already more than just satisfying. With Marina's skyline for a backdrop, things are just getting better.

Right after the parade, if you are a night owl and a party person, the after party for chingay is the party you must attend! With booming music with DJs that will blast the best dance music, you will get to mingle around and experience the night life of Singapore

Grab the tickets quick before it runs out! This event is highly popular with the tourists and locals because of the very hyped atmosphere and the great performances!

Ticketing information can be found HERE. Prices ranges from $25 to $55 and there are only 2 shows so be really quick in order to not miss the best parade in Asia! Here's a sneak peak of what to expect from the mini parade that was held not too long ago.

With all these colours and excitement filling up the stage on just a mini parade, then I wonder what will it be like on the real Chingay parade! Hesitate no more! The tickets are selling as you ponder.


Hari Raya
Place to go: Geylang Serai and Kampong Glam

Selamat Hari Raya" This is how Muslims greet each other on Hari Raya Puasa. This phrase simply means wishing you a joyous Hari Raya. Hari raya is celebrated by Muslims in all parts of the the world. The words ‘Hari Raya’ literally means 'day of celebration.' Hari Raya Puasa is the celebration of the end of their fasting month (Ramadan) which Muslims go through to praise and worship Allaah.

After a month of fasting is a month of celebration in return. Preparations start at least one month before the festival and Geylang Serai is a place where the Muslims gather to enjoy and stock up on their festive goods! Green is the main colour for Hari Raya and don't be surprised to be greeted with a street beautifully lit up with mostly dazzling green decorations and lights to enhance the festive spirit.

Geylang Serai will bring you lively bazaars that sells Muslim festive items, food, drinks and many other festive products. Delightful traditional snacks would be on sale and you can be assured of a filling tummy that would be protesting for more just after one round around the bazaar. It's a great place to bring home some special souvenirs to share with your family and friends.

You might even be tempted to purchase the beautifully detailed baju kurong (traditional malay costume for females) that is made with such good workmanship you would find it hard to believe. For males, there would be an equally colourful costume that you might want to purchase to show off. Baju Melayu is what it's called!

While the Chinese have their red packets during Chinese New Year, the Muslims have their very own green packet. So make sure you check those out! Money are slot inside the green packets and are given to children as a form of blessing. There are a wide variety of green packets now these days so keep your eyes peeled for the many designs.

Enough of us telling you. Pictures speaks a thousand words so here are some pictures and a video that hopefully increase your interest and help you make your decision!

After watching a short clip of what to expect when you're there, are you already prepared to experience it right here for yourself?


Mooncake Festival/Mid-Autumn Festival
Place to go: Chinatown

It's time to exchange those glowsticks with pretty lanterns!

The Chinese celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival when it's full moon and children will be running around with lanterns in their hands. This festival is very much like Thanksgiving. It's a tradition to sit under the full moon with your loved ones and enjoy mooncakes (chinese bakery product) and lighting up of lanterns to create more atmosphere.

There will be a very lively bazaar at Chinatown and several other events that are held outside Chinatown. Night time performances are definitely present and say hello to the beautiful street light up too. Mooncakes and lanterns can be bought at the bazaar and as years pass, lanterns are getting more and more innovative and you would be so spoilt for choices.

If you are hoping to snap a few photos during this festive, you are promised with some good shots with creative and huge lanterns. Although exhibition of lantern characters differs every year, you will still be guaranteed with an exciting exhibition of lanterns to look forward to!

Not only your eyes are in for a treat, you stomach is too! Mooncakes are a necessity during Mooncake festival so clear some space in your stomach for these yummy treats that comes in so many flavours!

We're sure, this is one festival you've got to come down and enjoy the festive spirit for yourself.
Brightly lit lanterns and walking under the moonlight, this just spells fun and romance don't you think?

  1. If you are planning to rent a car to drive to these destinations, we suggest not. With Singapore's good transport system. You will be able to reach your destinations by taking the public transport to prevent traffic jams that might take up a lot of your time and having to find an empty parking lot when swarms of people are also doing the same thing will not be easy.
  2. Bring less. Whilst going to heavily packed places like these, bring only your important belongings (eg: handphone and wallet)
  3. Make sure your belonging is always in your sight
  4. Dress casually. (When you're heading to places like these which are heavily packed, dressing casually is going to help you enjoy your trip more)
  5. Bring cash. Some of these stalls might not accept credit card payments.
  6. Gear up for some squeezing with the crowd. You might want to pack that mini portable fan along too.
  7. Have fun!
The best of Singapore, is to experience our different festivals as this is what makes Singapore so unique. The bustling city will be so alive during this festive seasons as the joy of celebrating is just too much to be contained inside us.

Children will enjoy this as much as adults because of all that colourful lights, performances and the new culture they'll get to learn! Come join us as a family, this would strengthen the meaning of celebrating these festivals!

*Dates of these festivals changes yearly so check out Singapore's Calendar to find out when are these festivals on the year itself.

Credits to Google for the photos and @goforthehole for the wonderful video

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