This post is a part of the Christmas Around The World series, in which bloggers from across the globe will be telling us all about Christmas in their home country. Today we have Pamela from Pam Goes Travelling, sharing an insight into the holiday season in Singapore.

Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?

Hello! I am Pamela from Singapore, an avid traveller who currently holds a full-time job while I travel the world part-time. I also write at my travel blog, Pam Goes Travelling, which contains my stories. I travel to experience cultures, understand histories, interact with people, experiment with different cuisines and admire nature’s beauty.

I am a deist, so Christmas is not a big holiday for me, but I do enjoy gathering with friends and exchanging gifts.

How do you spend Christmas in Singapore? 

While this may be a meaningful day for church-goers, I embrace the public holiday with enthusiasm because Christmas signifies the beginning of the holiday seasons; Christmas and the New Year followed by the Chinese New Year, that makes me a happy girl!

I used to hang out with friends in town or at one of their homes for a good gathering with food and Christmas exchanges. Nowadays I am happy just snuggling up at home, watching Christmas specials on TV and getting into the Christmas mood, or using this day to repay the sleep debts I have accumulated.

What do you consider to be the essential activities in the run up to Christmas?

I would not say that there are essential activities, however Christmas is a very commercialised holiday in Singapore.

One of the highlights which most people look forward to is the Christmas lights going up in the busiest shopping area of Singapore, Orchard Road. The lights turn the whole bustling street into a magical place. It is almost mandatory to check out the Christmas lights and snap plenty of photos every year!

Have you ever spent Christmas in a different country? How did that differ from being at home?

In 2011, I celebrated my first Christmas away from home, not that it was a big holiday for me anyway! I visited my cousin who was living in Brisbane and we headed down to Sydney together. Christmas Day is one of the most important days in the calendar in Australia I reckoned, because this is when most retailers are closed.

Most retailers extended their trading hours on 23rd and 24th December just so people were able to pick up last minute Christmas gifts and food, then they were closed for Christmas day. Not wanting to be left out, we did the same by grabbing some fresh seafood from Sydney Fish Market and a good bottle of wine to save for a Christmas dinner in our hotel room.

It reminded me of the Chinese New Year in Singapore, the mad rush of people stocking up on all the fresh food, because that is when most shops and restaurants will be closed. It is also the closure of shops and restaurants which make a holiday truly a holiday, as the service staff get to take a break and celebrate the day with their friends or family. It is also a time tourist attraction sites will be the most crowded, because that is where people hang out.

We spent Christmas walking and exploring the attractions in Sydney, then taking a ferry to Manly Beach to bask under the sun and make use of a warm holiday. We retired early to our room for our Christmas feast and to rest early, before waking up at 4am in the morning of Boxing Day for the annual Boxing Day sales.

Which is your favourite holiday? How is it celebrated in Singapore? 

My favourite holiday of all time has got to be the Chinese New Year, because as Chinese there are still traditions I uphold. Entering a new cycle of the lunar calendar represents starting a fresh new beginning for everything.

Like I mentioned earlier, during the Chinese New Year most of the retailers will close for a day or two, so it makes the festive mood stronger. Although the Chinese New Year is a fifteen day celebration, in Singapore we just get the first two days off from work. It allows us to make house visitations to the elder ones in the family and it is all about catching up and having fun as we will stuff ourselves in our favourite Chinese New Year goodies. This is the time of the year you have a perfect reason to deck yourself in new apparel from head to toe, all in the name of starting the year brand new.

Some people like to make use of this long holiday to travel, to avoid the endless questioning from the nosy relatives, but being brought up in a traditional family where the family bonds are important there is no way that I could miss out on Chinese New Year, which I hold close deep inside my heart. I don’t know, perhaps a few years down the road it will be best to just avoid those nosy relatives and the awkwardness of receiving red packets, which are a form of blessing from those who are already married (but not when you are an old, single, unmarried woman). For now, let me enjoy my favourite holiday!

Thanks Pamela! Are there any other Singaporean readers out there? What does your Christmas look like?