Singapore has its own culture

Traditions and culture in Singapore

It was and is a Herculean task for the government of Singapore to bring the many traditions and cultural norms of the multi-ethnic state under one roof. The countless immigrants from the different regions of China and from South India brought with them just as different customs as the immigrants from the surrounding area such as the Malaysian peninsula and the Indonesian islands. Then there were the influences of the Arab traders and of course the British colonial rulers. To date, there are four official languages ​​in Singapore: Mandarin Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil. English has remained the most important business language even after independence and is spoken by all sections of the population. For this purpose, a separate form of English has been developed, the so-called “Singlisch”, in which all four languages ​​have merged.

Customs in Singapore

Since most of Singapore's population has Chinese roots, the country's traditions are correspondingly strongly influenced by Chinese. This includes, for example, that the elderly are always respected and that there is hardly anything worse than “losing face”. Western outbursts of anger in particular are feared by the Chinese, because they not only lead to the raging tourist losing face, but also the Chinese "recipient" of the outburst. With courtesy, calm and a smile, visitors get a lot further. To learn more about the Singapore Code of Conduct, click here.

Kiasu - Singapore's way of life

Often difficult to understand in the West, it is the common and open striving for prosperity and honor that is common in China and has made Asian students stand out so well in international school comparisons for decades. The island state sees itself as a classless society in which everyone can achieve prosperity and respect with diligence and ambition - regardless of which ethnic group they belong to and who their parents are.

In Singapore, a concept called “Kiasu” developed from this, which can be translated as “fear of losing”. Kiasu triggers an unbridled ambition among the inhabitants of the island so as not to lose - in professional life, in negotiations, at school or in sports. However, Kiasu is also controversial in Singapore itself: Some believe that Kiasu encourages the residents to perform at their best, while others think that it leads to a cold, dishonorable society in which everyone only thinks of themselves.

Culture or traditions in the island state

Every ethnic group in Singapore upholds its own culture and traditions and the calendar for the holidays and festivals is correspondingly colorful: The official holidays include the Chinese New Year celebrations as well as the Hindu festival of lights Deepavali and the Muslim Hari Raya Puasa (at known to us as the Sugar Festival or Eid al-Fitr) and the Christian Christmas. A festival for everyone is the national holiday on August 9th, which is celebrated with large parades, parties and concerts.

The greatest common denominator of the different ethnic groups is the love of food. The island's hawker centers, where numerous food stalls come together, enjoy an excellent reputation throughout Asia and beyond. Chinese, Malay, Indonesian and Tamil influences were brought together here and produced numerous new dishes, including the now world-famous laksa soup. The Singapore Food Festival attracts foodies from all over the world every July, who can eat their way through countless food stalls and restaurants for a month.


The island's cultural life

Visitors to Singapore will find a huge selection of traditional cultural events from Chinese opera to the Indonesian gamelan orchestra and various museums. The Esplanade Theaters on the Bay offer a mix of western and eastern culture. It is not always easy for foreign culture, however, and the government likes to censor “obscene” performances that show too much skin. Performances that could offend ethnic or religious feelings and endanger the cohesion of the multi-ethnic state often fall victim to censorship.