Holidays 101: What You Need to Know About Public Holidays in Singapore

Are you looking to make the most of your holidays and plan ahead for the year? Look no further than this comprehensive guide to Singapore's public holidays. From Chinese New Year to Deepavali, we've got all the important dates marked on our calendar, along with tips for what to do and where to go during each holiday. Get ready to have a fun-filled year with family and friends as we help you navigate Singapore's diverse cultural celebrations. Let's dive in!

Public Holidays in Singapore by

Public Holidays in Singapore

As a small island nation with a diverse population, Singapore celebrates a variety of public holidays throughout the year. While some holidays are specific to certain ethnic or religious groups, many are enjoyed by all and provide a chance to come together as a community.

The main public holidays in Singapore are:

Chinese New Year

This holiday is celebrated by people of Chinese descent and falls on the first day of the lunar new year. It is typically a time for family gatherings, feasts and exchanging gifts. Red packets (envelopes containing lucky money) are often given to children and unmarried adults.

Public Holiday Date: 28 January 2017 (Friday) & 2 February 2017 (Tuesday)

Good Friday

A somber holiday observed by Christians worldwide to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Good Friday is typically spent in prayer and reflection. Some businesses may be closed on this day.

Public Holiday Date: 14 April 2017 (Friday)&  15 April 2017(Saturday)*optional holiday for workers falling on Saturday or Sunday   

East Asian cultures have numerous festivals throughout the year that everyone can enjoy! Most of these have something in common with Singapore's public holidays. 

Here are some of the most popular ones:

Osaka’s Tenjin Matsuri: One of Japan’s biggest festivals that occurs annually on July 24-25 in Osaka. The festival features processions with portable shrines, music and dance performances, food stalls selling Osaka’s  signature dishes and a fireworks display.

Yi Peng Lantern Festival: A Buddhist festival held in Chiang Mai, Thailand that celebrates the beginning of the Lanna (Northern Thai) new Year. The main event is releasing thousands of beautiful paper lanterns into the night sky.

Dragon Boat Festival: A Chinese holiday celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Teams race traditional boats around a course while musicians play drums and flags are waved. It’s believed to commemorate the life and death of Qu Yuan, a poet who drowned himself in protest against his government about 2,500 years ago.

These are just some of the many festivals celebrated throughout East Asia that can be experienced in Singapore! 

Public Holiday Dates: 5 May 2017 (Friday)  & 29 May 2017 (Monday)* optional holiday for workers falling on Saturday or Sunday as well as Labour Day which falls on 1st May.

Major National Holidays in Singapore

New Year's Day

Singaporeans celebrate New Year's Day on 1 January each year. This public holiday is a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate the start of a new year. Many people visit temples or churches and take part in religious activities on New Year's Day. Some people also take this opportunity to clean their homes and decorate them with auspicious symbols to usher in good luck for the year ahead.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, falls on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar (which usually falls in late January or early February). It is a major festival for Singapore's Chinese community and is celebrated with much fanfare and festivities. Family gatherings, reunion dinners, lion and dragon dances, firecrackers, and beautiful decorations are all part of the celebrations during this festive season.

Good Friday

Good Friday is a public holiday in Singapore that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is observed by Christians worldwide as a day of prayer and repentance. Many Christians in Singapore attend church services and participate in religious activities on Good Friday. Some also choose to fast or give up something for Lent during this period. Good Friday usually falls in late March or early April each year.

Vesak Day

Vesak Day commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha - the founder  of Buddhism. It is a public holiday in Singapore and is celebrated by Buddhists with prayer, offerings, and charity. Floral decorations, colorful lights, and lanterns adorn the places of worship during this time. Vesak Day usually falls in late April or early May each year.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims all around the world. On this day, Muslim families gather to exchange greetings and presents, enjoy festive foods and sweets, visit their relatives or friends’ homes, and take part in various religious activities such as attending Iftar parties or performing special prayers at Mosques and other places of worship. Hari Raya Aidilfitri usually falls in late May or early June each year.

Regional and Religious Holidays in Singapore

  1. Public holidays in Singapore are either regional or religious in nature.
  2. There are 11 regional public holidays and 9 religious public holidays in Singapore.
  3. The most popular regional holiday is the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated by people of Chinese ethnicity. Other popular regional holidays include Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali.
  4. The most popular religious holiday is Muslim Eid al-Fitr, which is celebrated at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Other popular religious holidays include Buddhist Vesak Day and Hindu Diwali. 
  5. In addition to these holidays, Singapore also celebrates several secular or community-based holidays such as National Day, Hari Raya Haji, National Day Parade, and Labor Day.

Festival Celebrations in Singapore

Singapore boasts a wide array of festivals and celebrations throughout the year, so there’s always something to look forward to! Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Chinese New Year is the biggest and most important festival for Singapore’s Chinese community. It is usually celebrated in late January or early February. The festivities include lion and dragon dances, firecrackers, visits to relatives and friends, and exchanging lucky red packets.
  • Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. It is celebrated by Muslims all over Singapore with prayers, feasting and visiting loved ones. Families will also decorate their homes with beautiful lights and lanterns.
  • Deepavali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by Hindus in October or November. It signifies the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. On this day, Hindus will dress up in their finest clothes, light oil lamps at their homes and visit temples to offer prayers. There will also be many festive stalls selling traditional snacks and sweets during Deepavali.
  • Christmas is a joyous occasion that is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike in Singapore! Families will put up Christmas trees and lights at home, exchange gifts, enjoy special holiday meals together and attend church services on Christmas Day.

There are pros and cons to public holidays in Singapore. On the plus side, public holidays provide a welcome break from work and allow people to spend time with family and friends. They also give businesses a boost, as people tend to shop and eat out more on holidays. On the downside, public holidays can be disruptive to schedules and cause traffic congestion. Some people also find them stressful, as they have to juggle family obligations with work demands.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Public Holidays?

Assuming that you get the public holidays off from work, here are some ideas on how to make the most out them! 

1. Plan a trip! Whether it’s a staycation or flying off somewhere, make use of the extra time off to explore Singapore or venture beyond our little island. Just remember to check if your chosen destination is open during the holiday period. 

2. Get some much-needed rest and relaxation. With our hectic lifestyles, it can be hard to find time to just kick back and do nothing. Public holidays are the perfect opportunity to recharge your batteries – sleep in, lounge around in your PJs all day, take naps… You know, all those things you love doing but never have enough time for. 

3. Attend a festive event or two. Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Christmas… There are plenty of celebrations happening throughout the year, and what better way to celebrate than joining in on the festivities? As well as being fun, you’ll also get to learn more about other cultures and traditions. 

4. Spend quality time with loved ones. With our busy schedules, it can be difficult to find time for family and friends. Public holidays provide ample opportunity for catch-ups – from big family gatherings to small group outings or even one-on-one catch-ups over coffee or lunch. 

5. Do something productive…or not! If you’re not keen  on squeezing in a full-day activity, why not get some of those pending chores out of the way? Or on the flip side, you could do absolutely nothing and just enjoy having a guilt-free day off. 

6. Enroll in a class. If you’ve been wanting to learn something new like drawing or pottery, make use of the extra time to pick up a skill! Or join a workshop – there are plenty of cool ones being offered that can be done within one day, from cheese making to painting classes.

Public holidays in Singapore are a time of celebration and commemoration. Whether they commemorate religious or cultural events, or honor Singapore's past and present heroes, these public holidays are an important part of the country's heritage. By following the tips we provided here on Holidays 101, you can make sure that you have everything planned out so that you can enjoy each holiday at its fullest. Do remember to check which special occasions apply for your workplace too before planning your days-off accordingly!

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