Culture of Singapore: Art, Religion, Language, Food, Dress & More!

Even though Singapore is the financial center of Asia, its people are proud of their cultural history and work hard to keep it safe for future generations.

singapore culture two lighted temples

There are a number of contemporary art galleries, theatres, and libraries in the city to support this claim. The majority of museums are designed with children in mind, with cutting-edge, clever, interactive rooms where visitors may interact with exhibits and try out a variety of activities.

We’re always on the lookout for new exhibitions and temporary exhibits to write about on our website and social media.

Major Art galleries, Theatres, Museums, and libraries in Singapore

Cultural Heritage Centers

A Heritage Center may be found in any of the city’s historic enclaves, including Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam. It’s worth a look! These facilities are time capsules in the making. They tell the story of Singapore’s founding fathers and mothers.

The story of the country is portrayed through archival images, videos, and handwritten letters. It’s possible to envision what life was like a century ago, including how people worked, interacted, and felt. 

Chinatown Heritage Center: https://chinatown.sg/

Little India Heritage Center: www.indianheritage.org.sg/en

Kampong Glam (Malay) Heritage Center: www.malayheritage.org.sg/en

National Museum of Singapore

In terms of architecture, the museum building dates back to the 19th century, when the British Empire was a major player in the world. The exhibitions will provide a wealth of information about Singapore’s past.

Throughout the exhibits, you’ll learn about the island’s colonial history, ancient empires, and sultanates. In addition, I’d like to mention the “economic miracle” that pushed Singapore to the top of the global rankings in such a short period of time.

To pass the time of Singapore’s volatile history through the eyes of a youngster from a modest household, a fascinating permanent installation titled “Growing Up” can be found on the second level. Every little thing may be captured in a picture or a movie.

There are several things to do for kids in this area. There are many ways to do this, such as printing a coloring book, dressing up in a national costume, doing a craft with your hands, and pretending to prepare national food in a toy oven. Visit the museum’s website to learn more about upcoming exhibits and activities. 

Know more: https://www.nhb.gov.sg/nationalmuseum/

Museum of Peranakan Culture

The word “Peranakan” means “descendant”.  Merchants who came to Singapore and married local women often stayed and established their families here. The Peranakan people descended from the offspring of these unions.

Many Peranakans are descended from Chinese forebears, but there are also Indian and Arabic Peranakans. This country has a particular way of life. The museum’s halls are filled with information about the Peranakans’ history, culture, religion, customs, and celebrations, including their colorful weddings. There are also portraits of the Peranakans and displays of their traditional clothing, as well as examples of their beautiful embroidery and unique use of color.

The museum’s crowning glory is a lavish Peranakan wedding bed that once belonged to Penang resident Mrs. Kwah Hong Chiam. By the way, TripAdvisor reports that the Museum of Peranakan Culture is one of Singapore’s top three most visited attractions.

Know more: https://www.nhb.gov.sg/peranakanmuseum/

Singapore National Gallery

Learn about Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to the present in this museum’s world-renowned collection.

City Hall and the old Supreme Court both serve as landmarks for the city, and the gallery is housed within both of those structures. At the museum, you can rent or download a free audio tour to your cell phone, and there are also educational events for both kids and adults.

Know more: http://www.nationalgallery.sg/

Center for Contemporary Art – Gillman Barracks

There used to be a military barracks where the Gillman Barracks is now. Since its redevelopment, the building has been transformed into a hub for contemporary art galleries and cafes, as well as a venue for non-profit events. The Singapore Biennale and other significant events are held at the facility. It’s always intriguing to see what’s going on at this location.

Museum of Art and Science

By itself, the museum’s structure and design are masterpieces. It is a prominent feature of the Marina Bay promenade. Moshe Safdie, a well-known architect, designed the museum.

It looks like a lotus flower to some and an open palm to others, depending on how you look at it. It is possible to create a waterfall inside the structure by collecting rainfall in the palm’s core while natural light enters via the palm’s fingers.

It hosted several events, including exhibitions of works by Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol; an exposition commemorating the Titanic’s 100th-anniversary voyage; a look at the history of timepieces; and an exhibit on Egyptian mummies.

Museum admission for children under the age of 12 is free on Fridays when they are accompanied by an adult. with the exception of public holidays and school vacations (usually they start in November and last for a month and a half).

At the museum, there are often shows, field trips, and master classes for kids of all ages.

Know more: https://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Dinosaurs may be a favorite of your youngsters. So you’re at the correct place. Skeletons of diplodocus and other reptiles dating back 150 million years may be found in this museum! Prehistoric whale remains are also found in this area.

The trip will teach you about the native flora and fauna of Singapore. The museum has two floors dedicated to the history of life on Earth and Singaporean archaeological discoveries. Bookings may only be made at www.sistic.com. On the museum’s website, you may find information about upcoming tours and educational events:

Know more: https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/

Asian Civilizations Museum

For centuries, Singapore has been at the crossroads of key trading routes, which has resulted in the interchange of ideas and information. It houses artifacts from diverse civilizations whose paths crossed Singapore’s. The museum’s exhibits of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures, as well as Buddhist symbols and Islamic artifacts, may be found here. Memorable are the treasures of Chinese ceramics and Indian artifacts. Be sure to check out the room dedicated to the Tang Dynasty’s famous ship.

Chinese porcelain, silver, and gold were all aboard this commercial ship as it traveled from South China to Iran. It went down over a century ago. You may now witness wonderfully preserved meals as well as jewelry thanks to their discovery in 1998.

Here, an entire day is set aside for children on the first Saturday of the month. Teaching a national art, performances of fairy tales, and more are all part of the program’s offerings. Also, on the days before Singaporean national holidays, the museum hosts festivals and other events with a theme.

Know more: www.acm.org.sg

Science Center Singapore

What causes a tsunami to occur? Is human activity causing a shift in the climate? What’s the best way to think about the structure of the brain? You have to do your own experiments to find out why things happen in this environment the way they do.

You may make a minor scientific discovery without putting your own health at risk by seeing inside the human body.

Know more: https://www.science.edu.sg/

Sentosa Maritime Museum – Maritime Experiential Museum

Children are the sole focus of one of Singapore’s newest museums.

The SEAAquarium is linked to it. There are interactive exhibits that you can interact with, twist, and click on to learn more about aquatic animals. There’s also a large collection of drums that you can play on, as well as a sailboat that’s docked in the auditorium of the Typhoon Theatre.

Know more: https://www.rwsentosa.com/

Toy Museum – MINT Museum of Toys

Asian teddy bears, oversized Batman, Mickey Mouse, and Star Wars icons are just a few of the items on display in Asia’s largest toy museum. Many of the museum’s 3,000 exhibits will bring back memories of your own childhood, as well as those of your children.

People all throughout the world contributed to the collection. A baby doll or a rabbit may be lurking in these shadowy corners.

Know more: https://emint.com/

Beliefs and religions of Singapore

Buddhism

More than a third of Singapore’s population practices Buddhism. Morality, focus, and wisdom are all emphasized in the teachings of Buddhism. Part of this belief system is Fengshui, which is the art and science of invoking good energy. On the island is the Kong Meng San Phor Kar See Monastery, which is the biggest Chinese Mahayana Buddhist temple in Singapore.

Taoism

For those who practice the ancient Chinese religious philosophy of Lao Tzu, Taoism is a way of life. Heavenly reverence, ancestor cults, and sympathy for the underworld are some of its core beliefs. In remembrance of those who have passed away, devotees burn paper and joss sticks as part of their daily rituals. This religion is the source of the Yin Yang idea.

Islam

People who follow Islam believe that the Qur’an is the inspired word of God. The Qur’an is a collection of divine revelations based on the prophet Muhammad’s understanding of the Bible.

Hinduism

There are a number of Hindu gods, including Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, who are all depicted in various ways throughout the Hindu pantheon. Ganesha, Rama, Krishna, Murgan, Hanuman, Durga, Mariamman, and Lakshmi. The tone and dialect used here are typical of the South Indian subcontinent. The Hindu Endowment Board and Hindu Advisory Board are in charge of running the vast majority of the temples in the area, which total 30 in number.

Christianity

Christianity is based on the belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the source of all their beliefs. Throughout the Bible, we learn about Jesus’ life and teachings as well as his death on the cross. Completion of Singapore’s Armenian Church, the country’s first Christian church, occurred in the year 1835. Singapore has a wide variety of Christian churches, including both Catholic and Protestant ones. Services are available 24 hours a day in a number of languages so that people from all over the world can use them.

Singapore’s festivities and holidays

People of Chinese, Malay, and Indian descent make up Singapore’s socio-cultural fabric. The recent inflow of immigrants has given Singapore a cosmopolitan image and a multicultural way of life. Each ethnic group retains its own distinct culture while living in harmony with the rest of the community. Due to its unique mix of cultures and people, Singapore’s events calendar is full of holidays and festivals all year long.

New Year’s Day:

Festivities begin at the beginning of the year in Singapore, and each new year is marked by festivities. Countdown parties for the public are held at a number of establishments throughout the year. The Marina Bay Singapore Countdown and the Siloso Beach Party in Sentosa are the two most popular waterfront events. Most Singaporeans go to one of these two locations for the public performances and the spectacular fireworks show.

The Chinese New Year

One of Singapore’s most eagerly awaited events is the arrival of the Year of the Pig. China’s Lunar New Year begins each year on the first lunar month, between the last week of January and the first week of February. Reunion parties, visits to relatives and friends’ houses, hongbao (red envelopes with money) exchanges, tiny mandarin trees (symbolizing wealth), and temple visits are all part of the festivities.

XMAS:

As the Christmas season approaches, people begin to get into the Christmas mood months in advance of December 25th. Festivities begin in late November and last into the New Year each year in the name of “Christmas in the Tropics,” a seven-week celebration of the holiday spirit. Festive street lights, spectacular celebration arches, shimmering water features, and wonderfully themed decorations adorn Orchard Road and Marina Bay throughout the Christmas season.

Hari Raya Puasa:

It’s called Eid Ul Fitr in many parts of the world, but among the Singaporean Malays it’s known as Hari Raya Puasa, and it usually occurs in September or October. Numerous food vendors provide authentic Malay cuisine in vibrant, festive bazaars. As part of the festivities, there will be traditional Malay songs and dance performances.

Hari Raya Haji:

Hari Raya Haji, also known as Eid Al Adha or Eid al-Adha, is celebrated. Hari Raya Haji is celebrated in November or December. It has many of the same customs and traditions as Hari Raya Puasa.

Vesak Day:

On the full moon day of the fourth lunar month, Singapore’s Buddhist community holds its annual Vesak Day celebration. It’s called Vesak Day because it marks the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and enlightenment to nirvana. Buddhist temples and shrines are decorated with flowers, fruits, and other donations, as well as Buddhist flags and lighting. Members of the public are welcome to attend Vesak Day festivities, which are held in closed-door venues.

Deepavali:

As the most significant Hindu holiday, the Festival of Lights is also a major celebration for Singapore’s large Indian community. Little India, home to many ethnic Indians, kicks off the festivities weeks in advance, usually in October or November. The bright lights and traditional decorations in Little India are meant to show that good will win over evil or that light will win over darkness.

Customs in Singapore

As the foundation of society, the family fosters a sense of belonging, a commitment to one another, and a reverence for the wisdom of those who have gone before. In general, the phrase “family” refers to those who are regarded as families, such as blood relatives or close friends. Two of the island nation’s most important beliefs are respect for the elderly and the value of family.

Face and respect:

Personal dignity is conveyed by the presence of a face. People in Singapore are extremely concerned about preserving a good public image. A person’s face is a priceless asset that may be given, lost, stolen, or reclaimed. It is a symbol of one’s reputation, character, and the respect of one’s peers. Besides the person, it may also encompass the entire family, school, workplace, or even the entire country.

Communication through nonverbal cues and body language

Singaporeans rely on body language, facial expressions, and vocal intonation to decipher the emotions of others. It is common for them to rely more on nonverbal communication than spoken communication.

They communicate in a manner that is subdued, indirect, and implicit. They don’t say what they mean straight out because they don’t want to embarrass the other person.

As an alternative to just answering “no,” they may say something like, “Let me see what I can do.” This tactic benefits both requesters and refusers because it allows them to maintain their dignity and goodwill in their relationship. Singaporean communication relies heavily on silence.

Pausing before answering a question shows that the person has given the subject some serious thought and that their response is well-considered.

The gastronomy of Singapore (Singapore’s cuisine)

Since Singapore’s history as a major seaport with a large immigrant population, its cuisine is influenced by many different ethnic groups. There is a wide range of food from Malaysia’s native Malay, Chinese, and Indian groups, as well as Western and Peranakan influences (especially English and Portuguese-influenced Eurasian, called Kristang).

Typical dishes

Today’s “Singaporean Chinese cuisine” was brought to Singapore by immigrants from southern China in the early years of the colony. After that, they were changed to fit the local availability of ingredients while incorporating influences from other cooking traditions, such as Malay and Indian.

  • Bak kut teh, a pork rib soup with a variety of Chinese herbs and spices, is served at many Chinese restaurants.
  • Beef kway teow, beef noodles stir-fried with rice noodles, is eaten either dry or with soup.
  • One of the most popular noodle soups in the country is beef noodle soup.
  • Puffed pastry dumplings made of glutinous rice and wrapped in bamboo leaves are known as Bak Chang. Despite its Chinese ancestry, it is a staple in Peranakan cooking.

Sweets and desserts:

This city has a rich history when it comes to sweets. At a typical food court or hawker center, you may expect to find a broad range of sweets, including, but not limited to:

pearl sago, sweet potatoes, yams, plantains, black-eyed peas, sugar, salt, and pandan leaves boiled in coconut milk and served hot or cold

In its most simple form, chendol has pandan jelly strips with coconut milk as well as syrup made from palm sugar and ice cream. This dish might be spiced up even more by using red beans, sweet corn, ice cream, or even durian.

Drinks

Singaporeans’ favorite libations include the following:

  • Rose syrup with evaporated milk in a bandung.
  • Singapore Beer.
  • Chin chow drink, a sweetened version of grass jelly.
  • Kopi, Singapore’s coffee, is a staple of the city’s diet. The kopi slang of Singapore is a mashup of numerous languages.
  • Chocolate and malt milk drink Milo. It’s possible to get a Milo dinosaur, or just Milo powder on top of a regular drink if you’d like.

The traditional dress code for Singaporeans

Singapore’s dress code, for the most part, closely reflects Western attire. At work, men are expected to wear pants, a shirt, and a tie to work; a jacket or suit for formal events; and a tuxedo for glamorous ones. When it comes to clothing etiquette, there are no strict regulations requiring women to wear skirts at all times.

The elderly generations of Chinese, Malays, and Indians dressed in traditional garb for special events as well as on a daily basis. There are many different types of Chinese clothing for women, but the cheongsam (also known as the “silk dress”) is one of the most popular.

A high slit on the side of the garment is a common feature. I like to wear it at important gatherings when guys would normally wear a suit or tuxedo because of its elegance and sensuality.

At least two traditional Malay costumes are worn by women. In the baju kurung, a shirt and a long skirt or sarong are worn together. To show their appreciation for the day, many Malay office workers choose to wear this on Fridays alone.

Their other traditional outfit is the figure-hugging sarong kebaya, which is made up of a tight-fitting top and a thin batik skirt wrapped around the middle.

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Daniel Wong
Daniel Wong
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