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Easter 2018 and 2019

201830 MarFriGood Friday
1 AprSunEaster Sunday
201919 AprFriGood Friday
21 AprSunEaster Sunday

Singapore, the only island in the world that is also an independent city state, is a land of uniqueness and of great diversity. Its polyglot mix of languages, ethnicities, and religions is a creation of its central location on the world’s trade routes and its tiger-like economic dominance. The island’s population is 5.5 million, but only 38 percent are permanent residents. The rest are expatriate workers, who bring their cultures and their holidays with them, including Easter.

The single largest religious group in Singapore is Buddhist, and Christianity comes in second at a distant 18 percent. Christmas and Good Friday are public holidays in Singapore, and the former is accompanied by a turbulent shopping season, but Easter is mostly only celebrated in Singapore by Christians.

In many churches of Singapore, which cover virtually the full spectrum of denominations, Palm Sunday (a week before Easter) will be kept with special services. To remember the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, local palm leaves are harvested, folded into the shape of a cross, and paraded by children during the service. The details of each service will vary, but waving palm leaves like the people of Israel did 2,000 years ago to welcome their Messianic King is typically central to the celebration.

On Good Friday, many churches will have services again, marking the day of Jesus’ death on the cross. In Singapore, these are normally short, morning services that are very solemn.

When Easter Sunday arrives, Singaporean churches often take the occasion to baptise converts. Since rising up out of the water symbolises entering a new life with Christ, it is connected with the Resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, which Easter commemorates. Some churches will also have sunrise services on Easter.

Christians will also gather with friends and family for an Easter meal. Roast lamb is usual for the main dish and symbolises what Christians believe about Jesus being the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. Hot cross buns, an introduction of Singapore’s former colonial masters (Britain), is also popular. Hot cross buns are a kind of extra-rich tea cake with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices, which have a cross shape baked into their tops. Easter eggs are also gaining popularity in Singapore, as are chocolate eggs, chocolate rabbits, jelly beans, and other Easter candies.

Should you visit Singapore during the Easter season, some events and activities to attend include:

  • The Giant Egghibition at Sentosa Harbour. Sixty gigantic Easter eggs, painted by local artists and students, are put on display for a week, which is the main attraction. There is also an egg hunt with prizes totalling over $50,000 in value. There will be plenty of fun and games for the whole family, though events may vary from year to year.
  • Easter events at Universal Studios Singapore. Universal Studios is already one of the main tourist attractions in Singapore, but at Easter time, there is more. There will be a kids’ egg hunt, egg painting time, an Easter breakfast and lunch buffet, Easter-themed shows, Easter-costumed staff to greet guests, and much more.
  • For visitors not prepared to cook their own Easter dinners or lucky enough to be invited over by local Singaporeans, there is an abundance of Easter buffets and menu items at restaurants and hotels throughout Singapore. Two that deserve special mention are given below.
    • First, there is the Barnacles by the Sea Easter seafood buffet. There is roast lamb and duck a la orange, but you will also find sea bass, oysters, Alaska king crab, and other dishes. After eating, you will be able to visit the on-site swimming pool, for it is all located on the premises of the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa.
    • Second, for a desert-focused Easter meal, go to the Tablescape restaurant inside the Movenpick Heritage Hotel. Here, you get an array of treats all themed to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” including pork ribs glazed with cocoa and maple syrup, warm-served chocolate toffee, and chocolaty bread and butter pudding. Also look for the delicious and interesting “Spanish Easter Quail-egg Salad.” After dinner, there are crafts, egg painting, and jumping castles for the kids.
  • Visit the oldest church in Singapore, the Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator, for Easter services. It was built back in 1835 and is in the British neoclassical style. The building is simple but elegant, and it has a tower with a spire on it, which has a cross on it.

Since Easter is celebrated only by a minority of Singapore’s people, the “usual” tourist hot spots are still open, though a bit more crowded than what is normal. Some key stops to consider making include: the Wild Wild Wet water park, Underwater World with its ocean-life aquarium and dolphin shows, the Singapore Botanic Gardens in their springtime beauty, the Jurong Bird Park, and Night Safari, which gives you a peek at nocturnal animals that are not much seen in action during the daytime. Also be sure to get some panoramic views of the city from the Tiger Sky Tower.

Easter is not a big holiday in Singapore other than among the one-sixth or so of the population who are Christian, but there are still many Easter events at hotels, resorts, and theme parks. At churches with special services and at restaurants with special buffets, you can experience Easter-specific activities, while also enjoying the “usual“ attractions.