Singaporeans enjoy one of the world’s highest numbers of public holidays. In 2024, citizens can expect 11 national public holidays along with additional holidays tied to ethnic and religious celebrations. Marking these diverse festivities lets Singaporeans connect more deeply with cultural traditions while getting well-deserved downtime from work and school obligations.
As an ethnically diverse country, holidays in Singapore honor its varied mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian citizens and permanent residents. The major festivals recognize milestones across Buddhist, Taoist, Christian and Muslim faiths. By making the most widely celebrated holidays national across all ethnic groups, these days off foster greater harmony and understanding in line with Singapore’s multi-cultural identity.
In 2024, the 11 national holidays fall on the following dates:
January 1: New Year’s Day
January 21: Chinese New Year
March 8: Good Friday
May 1: Labor Day
May 19: Vesak Day
May 24: Hari Raya Puasa
August 9: National Day
October 29: Deepavali
December 25: Christmas Day
Beyond the established public holidays, Singapore residents also enjoy supplementary holidays when events align on adjacent weekdays. For 2024, these special occasions include the day after Chinese New Year on January 22nd, the day after Hari Raya Puasa on May 25th, and the day after Deepavali on October 30th. The additional ones create long holiday weekends to allow for more celebrations.
The first major public holiday on the 2024 calendar falls on Monday, January 21st for Chinese New Year – the start of a two-day break including the adjacent supplementary holiday. Also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, this marks the beginning of a 15-day celebration by Chinese communities. The date fluctuates annually as it follows the lunar calendar, but typically occurs between late-January and mid-February.
The holiday ushers in the Year of the Rat in 2024 – the first animal of the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. The rat represents wealth and surplus in Chinese culture. Its resourcefulness and quick-wittedness are traits believed to influence the year’s fortunes. From lavish feasts to red packets with monetary gifts, Chinese New Year focuses heavily on abundance and prosperity.
The public holiday allows Singaporean families time for their reunion dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve held on Sunday, January 20th in 2024. Gathering with relatives lets elders bestow auspicious blessings upon children while enjoying sumptuous home-cooked meals featuring classics like fish, pineapple tarts, and Yu Sheng salad. In the following days, married couples customarily visit their parents’ or in-laws’ homes bearing oranges and mixed nuts as respectful gestures.
The holiday period also features vibrant cultural festivities across Singapore. Chinatown converts into a street market selling Chinese New Year snacks and decorations while Tanglin Shopping Centre showcases homemade delicacies through its annual Chinese New Year Fair. River Hongbao at the Float @ Marina Bay and Chingay street parade at F1 Pit Building entertain visitors with live performances and dazzling light displays fusing Chinese traditions with modern flare. After weeks of celebration, the festivities conclude with a Lantern Festival on Tuesday, February 5th.
Friday, March 8th marks Good Friday for 2024 –the Friday before Easter commemorating Jesus Christ’s crucifixion in Christian theology. The religious public holiday allows Christians in Singapore to attend church services and extra masses while engaging in reflection and prayer.
Houses of worship including Novena Church and the Cathedral of Good Shepherd see fuller congregations on Good Friday as well as through the Easter Vigil. More churches adopt candlelight services in the evening with readings, hymns, and processions carrying the Paschal candle symbolizing Christ as the light of the world.
While Good Friday sets a more solemn tone, the holiday kicks off a joyful Easter weekend break. Easter Sunday on March 10th celebrates Jesus’ resurrection as an affirmation of life conquering death. Churches deliver uplifting messages centered on renewal and hold special masses where attendees bring home decorative Paschal eggs as keepsakes. Families gather for hearty Sunday meals featuring baked ham, roast lamb, and hot cross buns. Kids engage in egg painting crafts and participate in Easter egg hunt events organized across Singapore’s malls and parks.
Most Buddhist devotees prepare to commemorate Vesak in Singapore on Sunday, May 19th 2024 as a day to reflect upon the Buddha’s teachings. Known as Buddha Day or Buddha’s birthday, Vesak celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha on the one full moon day.
In the weeks leading up to Vesak, Buddhism followers across Singapore visit temples and monasteries to offer prayers and participate in spiritual retreats. Donations and contributions to charitable organizations also form common practices during this period. Devotees symbolically free captive birds while some opt to adopt vegetarian or vegan diets as acts of compassion.
On Vesak Day itself, morning temple sessions involve elderly monks leading sutra chanting and Dharma talks centered on Buddhist philosophies. Monks maintain fasting rituals by noon before accepting alms offerings and food from devotees. Temple celebrations carry on till late evening through mantra recitations, hymn singing, and circumambulating shrines holding Buddha statues adorned with fresh flowers. Processions of devotees also make pilgrimage walks visiting eight temples in Singapore while reflecting on the eightfold path leading to the end of suffering.
Homes and buildings also hang Vesak lanterns, colorful string lights in various shapes and sizes symbolizing the radiance of Buddha’s teachings through the spiritual darkness of the material world. Places like Singapore Chinatown and temples display elaborate lantern installations while restaurants offer discounts on vegetarian fare. The holiday’s festive yet peaceful atmosphere lets Singaporeans connect more profoundly with Buddhism’s spiritual essence.
Thursday, May 24th 2024 marks Hari Raya Puasa – the Malay term for Eid-al Fitr - concluding the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. As one of Singapore’s largest religious celebrations, Hari Raya Puasa carries great spiritual and cultural significance for Malays in Singapore.
Also known as the ‘Festival of Breaking Fast’, Hari Raya Puasa centers on celebrating purity and repentance after a month of dawn-to-dusk fasting from all food and drink during daylight hours. Held on the first day of the 10th month of the Islamic calendar, the specific holiday date shifts approximately 10 days earlier annually on the Gregorian calendar.
The public holiday sets aside time for Singaporean Muslim families to hold a celebratory Hari Raya breakfast before heading to the mosque for thanksgiving prayers. Mosques like Sultan Mosque and Abdul Gafoor Mosque see holiday crowds donning vibrant Malay costume and Islamic attire. Lavish spreads of beef rendang, ketupat rice cakes, and assorted Malay kuih treats await at home for feasting visitors later in the day.
The festive joy continues in the following weeks through the tradition of Hari Raya visits. Families journey to relatives’ and friends’ homes bearing gifts and Hari Raya snacks to ask for forgiveness for any past wrongdoings. Children receive green-hued envelopes with monetary gifts from elders wishing them prosperity. The round of reciprocal visits lets the local Malay community renew social bonds grounded in the Islamic values emphasized throughout Ramadan.
Singapore commemorates its independence from Malaysia in 1965 through celebrations held on National Day observed on Friday, August 9th 2024 as a public holiday. Across neighborhoods, recreational clubs and grassroots organizations put up Singapore flags and banners starting weeks prior to build patriotic anticipation. National education campaigns through multiple government initiatives reinforce Singapore’s history and ethnic harmony to instill pride and gratitude.
The centerpiece National Day Parade returns to The Float @ Marina Bay for 2024. Catch elaborate performances by the Singapore Armed Forces Military Band and fusion world music by the Peoples Association Mass Dance troupe. Highlights like the annual Singapore National Day song performed live and flashy processions showing off military assets make for an entertaining showcase of Singaporean talent and defense capabilities alike.
In the evening, crowds flock to 13 designated heartland sites across Singapore to catch National Day firework displays timed to local favorites like “Home” and “Count on Me Singapore”. Hawker centers and restaurants dish out Singaporean must-try dishes from chilli crab to Hainanese chicken rice at special discounts in celebration.
The holiday inspires reflection on how harmony established from diversity has defined Singaporean identity over the decades. As the country approaches its bicentennial in 2065, the 2024 National Day will mark both successes already achieved and continued progress hoped for in the years ahead.
Most Hindu devotees prepare to commemorate Deepavali in Singapore on Monday, October 29th 2024 as a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Known as the Festival of Lights, the holiday carries spiritual significance in symbolizing enlightenment dispelling ignorance while also marking a joyous start to the Hindu New Year. For Tamil Hindus, celebrations revolve around Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom after victory against the demon king Ravana as told in the epic Ramayana story.
In Singapore, the Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown transforms into a colorful spectacle with a towering display of Deepavali themed statues and sculptures. Adjoining South Bridge Road converts into a glowing bazaar with stalls selling traditional Indian snacks, garments and gold jewelry.
Yet the most vibrant Deepavali scenes unfold in Singapore’s Little India district as Singaporean Hindus pay visits to the neighborhood’s temples before spending the afternoon shopping and feasting. Shops and buildings sport elaborate kolam floor designs created daily through careful placement of colored rice and powders. Stores offer special discounts on bridal jewelry, household appliances, and textiles to cater to the customary tradition of prosperous new year purchases.
When night falls, Little India illuminates with endless rows of clay oil lamps symbolizing the inner light. Teams compete in the annual M1 Singapore Deepavali Light Up carnival seeing who can design the most elaborate lamp displays. Stages come alive with cultural song and dance performances that families watch while savouring Indian sweets under the glowing nightscape.
After enjoying public celebrations, Singaporean Hindus then host private Deepavali visits on the holiday and subsequent weekends. Donning traditional attire, families visit relatives and friends to exchange greetings and sweets, renewing social bonds solidified in common faith. Through its rich tapestry of public and private festivities, Deepavali allows Hindus in multi-cultural Singapore to keep traditions alive for future generations while inviting fellow citizens to share in the community’s joy.
Although not an official public holiday, Christmas Day on Wednesday, December 25th sees much fanfare across Singapore. Streets shine with festive trimmings while hotels and retail outlets host Christmas fairs and markets. Shopping centers like ION Orchard and Compass One deck out designer display trees and curate gift bazaars ideal for picking up one-of-a-kind presents. Many malls even offer Christmas lucky draws, holiday craft workshops, and visits with Santa Claus to entertain families with children.
While Christians attend church services on Christmas morning before settling in for a hearty home feast later on, non-religious Singaporean families have adopted their own Christmas traditions as well. Group outings to splurge on buffet spreads at international hotel restaurants make for popular holiday excursions. More budget-friendly options like local food courts and hawker centers dish out roast turkey, honey-baked ham, and all other yuletide favorites at special seasonal rates, too.
Regardless of individual traditions, Christmas in Singapore ushers in irresistible holiday vibes through city streets filled with lights, laughter and celebration to wrap up yet another year.
Public holidays not only mark key occasions across Singapore’s major religions, but also trace the country’s evolution of social harmony, prosperity and progress since independence in 1965. New Year’s ushers in 2024 with fresh optimism, while Labor Day underscores Singapore’s firm commitment towards supporting workers. National Day recognizes Singapore’s strengths established across almost 60 years while days like Vesak, Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali let its diverse mix of cultures shine proudly.
By granting all citizens proverbial front row seats to understand and immerse across these festivities no matter their individual ethnic backgrounds, holidays reflect unity through diversity. With 11 national public holidays supplemented even further by ethnic community events, Singaporeans in 2024 can continue enjoying the immense privilege of both celebration and rest availed by living within a thriving multi-cultural society that honors its equally rich heritage.
On top of it, employees in Singapore receive annual leave, sick leave and other leave entitlements guaranteed by law. The Ministry of Manpower's Employment Act caps annual leave eligibility for most employees at a minimum of 7 days for those employed less than a year, and a maximum of 14 days for tenures exceeding 5 years. Individual companies often grant additional days off, with many providing 21 or more annual leave days especially for managerial and executive positions.
Public holidays that fall on an employee's rest day are not considered PHs per se under the Employment Act. In these cases, most companies convert them into paid time off by granting equivalent Time-Off-In-Lieu (TOIL) leave. This ensures fairness so that all staff enjoy similar holiday benefits regardless of their specific rest day rotation.
Reasonable sick leave and hospitalization leave balance out the calendar for times Singaporeans cannot fulfill work obligations due to illness or injury. The government encourages employers to provide eligible staff up to 60 days of paid hospitalization leave and an additional 30 days of sick leave per year if necessary to recuperate before returning to work. Those employed continuously for at least 3 months may draw up to 14 days of paid outpatient sick leave.
New mothers utilize government-mandated paid maternity leave ranging from 12 to 16 weeks depending on citizenship status. Fathers also qualify for 1-2 weeks of paid paternity leave in addition to shared parental leave. Rounding up the mix, Singaporeans can take time away for pressing needs with 3 days of paid compassionate leave typically granted after the death of a family member as well as unpaid infant care and extended child care leave.
Singaporeans have become masters at strategizing how best to capitalize on public holidays for leisure and recreation. When events align favorably on the calendar, long holiday weekends become treasured opportunities for relaxing local ‘staycations’ or quick getaways overseas.
The year kicks off with a satisfied sigh as New Year's Day lands precisely on a Monday with no need to apply leave. Chinese New Year similarly gifts employees Tuesday off with January 21st falling on a Monday. The mid-year Hari Raya Puasa long weekend spans 4 days from Thursday to Sunday. Towards late October, Deepavali on Monday the 29th gets extended into a Tuesday off as well. And for year-end festivities, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day yield multiple three-day weekends.
Whether enjoying hotel buffet lunches along Singapore’s iconic shopping belt of Orchard Road or jet-setting off on short trips to regional hot spots like Bangkok, Hong Kong or Bali, long weekends give Singaporean families valuable time to bond outside daily work and school routines.
And when public holidays align serendipitously, productivity broadly improves in subsequent work weeks as well. Starting off blocks of days refreshed from getaways with loved ones motivates Singaporeans to pour full energy into achieving goals upon returning to offices and job sites.
As Singapore progresses into the future, its holiday schedule continues adapting to support an evolving social landscape. Most recently Hari Raya Haji based around the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca got reclassified from a nation-wide public holiday into an optional flexi-work day scheme. The policy change arose after extensive dialogue with Muslim community leaders on how to grant employees choice on whether to observe the holiday. Local corporations now decide if allowing flexi-work on Hari Raya Haji aligns with business operations rather than mandating a day off for all.
Discussions around introducing Family Day emphasize how holidays tie closely with cultural values as well. Set potentially on the fourth Sunday of August, Family Day aims to remedy concerns that existing public holidays revolve heavily around ethnic culture and religious observances rather than family itself as the core social unit. If passed into law, the revamped holiday calendar would ensure dedicated opportunities for nuclear as well as extended families to reinforce bonds amidst Singapore’s often hectic pace of life.
As Singapore presses forward as a global city balancing both tradition and transformation, its public holiday schedule both anchors citizens in a proud past while allowing flexibility for an ever more dynamic future society.