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Festivals & Celebrations in Singapore


Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year generally falls in January or February, depending on the Chinese lunar calendar. Traditionally, the new year is welcomed with dragon dances and parades. Red pieces of paper with good wishes written on them are pasted on doors and walls. Chinatown has many markets around this time and is especially lively at night. This is the only time of year when many businesses close.

The main celebration involves a reunion dinner on the eve of the new year and visits to relatives and friends on the first two days. After the reunion dinner, parents and other relatives distribute hong bao (red packets containing money) to the family's unmarried children as a gesture of good fortune. In Singapore, although the public holiday is only two days the celebrations can last for half a month. The 15th day is the close of the festive season.

Qing Ming

Usually held in early April to celebrate the clear and bright days of spring, Qing Ming is also a time for the remembrance of ancestors, and it is often referred to as Tomb Sweeping Day. During the festival the graves of ancestors are visited and tended. The festival promotes filial piety and a sense of gratitude to one's ancestors and draws thousands of people to local temples.

Yu Lan Jie (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts)

Usually celebrated in August or September, depending on the Chinese lunar calendar. The Chinese believe that the souls of the dead are released for feasting and entertainment on earth. Chinese operas are performed for them and food is offered to the ghosts.

Mid-Autumn Festival (Mooncake or Lantern Festival)

A traditionally auspicious occasion for the Chinese community, the Mid-Autumn Festival takes place from early September to early October and celebrates the end of the farming year and an abundant harvest. The mooncakes signify unity and a cycle completed. This is a good opportunity for visitors to experience Singapore's unique blend of the best of the modern world and rich cultures. In Singapore, lantern competitions are held and the winning lanterns exhibited in the Chinese Garden.

Dragon Boat Festival

Held in May or June, the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the death of a Chinese saint who drowned himself as a protest against government corruption. Celebrated with boat races in specially crafted dragon boats across Marina Bay.

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