The small south-east Asian island, Singapore, shares various cultures and traditions because of the muti ethnic diversification present in the society. The Singaporeans as they now call themselves were actually descendants of immigrants from China, Malay Peninsula, Sri Lanka and the Indian Sub-Continent. Hence, despite acquiring a distinct identity for themselves, their customs, festivals and practices still reflect a mix of the traditions from various ethnicity that has been passed down through generations.
This cosmopolitan and multi-cultural society of Singapore, despite the varied diversity, observes common traditions. The top ten traditions in Singapore are:
1. Respect for Family Values
Loyalty, unity and respect for elders are what the families in Singapore emphasize on. Group harmony and mutual security is given more emphasis than individual gains. With extended families and close friends being treated as family members, core values are still retained in this island nation.
2. Respect for Hierarchy
The strength in the hierarchical relationship is still retained in Singapore despite them claiming themselves to be an egalitarian society. This is strongly observed in relationships whether be it parent-child, or employer-employees, or even that of teachers-students. This hierarchical relation clearly epitomizes elderly respect, cultural values and group dependence. More than this, a law was passed in this island country in 1966 which made it mandatory for the children to be responsible towards their elderly parents financial needs as and when they arise.
3. Usage of Multi-Language
Besides the four national languages Singapore recognizes i.e., English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay, Singlish is more popular. Singlish - a combination of their four national languages along with some Chinese dialects mixed in it, is what is generally heard in conversations between the Singaporeans. While English is the language used in business, administration and politics
The human Face plays an important part in relationships here. More polite and formal, control on the tone of voice, posture of body and facial expression, and less physical in their everyday dealings to establish a more harmonious relation is what the people here practice. A direct no rude behaviour and silence is an important element in the communication process here.
5.Titles/ Family Name
- -Chinese generally have three names with the surname or their family name first, followed by two of their personal names.
- -Malays add their fathers name to their personal names instead of their surnames. The men use the word BIN and the women BINTI as connectors in between their and their fathers name.
- -Indians do not use surnames sometimes and place their fathers name in front of their names instead. Some Indians with extremely long names sometimes use shortened versions of their own names.
6.Meeting and Greetings
Greetings follow a strict protocol usually based on ethnic origin and the person's age. Shaking hands or nodding heads and smiling is usually sufficient at the time of introduction between people.
7.Business Etiquette and Protocol
Most formal and strict rules in business as compared to other western countries are followed in Singapore. A strict chain in communication and command is observed keeping in mind that the group as a whole is given more importance here than individuals.
With a diversity in the culture present here,the giftin techniques are also different for different communities.
A generous no before accepting the gift which generally should not be an item used for cutting,clocks,handkerchief or straw sandals, and not packed in the mourning colours of blue,black or white,is generally the chinese tradition of accepting gifts.
Apart from alcohol or anything made from pigskin not wrapped in white, is generally what the malays accept or give as gifts. They usually offer it at the time of departing and not arriving.
No leather products or alcohols are usually gifted to Indians. Their gifts are wrapped in bright colours and should be given from right hand.
9.Building relationships and Communications
Relationship development takes a little time here because of the formal atmosphere that prevails. A calm demeanor is more accepted than an aggressive style of speech. A toned body language and respect for elders and good facial expression is what people here look forward to.
10. Fooding tradition
Muslims or Malays dont eat pork or drink alcohol and also fast from dawn to dusk in the month of ramzan. Hindus don't eat beefs and some of them are also strict vegetarians.
Despite of the different cultures present in Singapore, the varied traditions are still valued here.