South East Asia, a place rich in culture and tradition, celebrates a multitude of festivals and occasions year-round. To get in the festive spirit, some of the South-East Asian members of the Overachiever team share their favorite holidays.
“Being half-Singaporean, my Singaporean mother has been the gatekeeper of my culture and tradition. A notably important holiday for her side of the family is Chinese New Year. The advent of the new year is significant for many different cultural and religious groups – this is certainly the case for many Chinese-Singaporeans. In mum’s mind, Chinese New Year is her cultural equivalent of Christmas as it centres on family, communal meals and the practice of gift-giving. It is a time for families to gather together for a reunion dinner, where the family will eat foods imbued with meaning; fish for prosperity, dumplings for wealth and noodles for longevity. There is excitement in the air as the children eagerly rehearse ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’, anticipating the gifting of ‘Ang pow’ – red envelopes containing money given from the elder to the younger, from the married to the unmarried. The color of the envelopes is believed to symbolize good luck, abundance and ward off evil spirits. The days following Chinese New Year are spent visiting relatives, perhaps those who couldn’t make the reunion. Mum loves the inter-generational aspect of Chinese New Year and the coming together of the family patriarch/matriarch, the children, and all the generations in between.”
– Lauren, editorial intern.
“I’m Filipino and my favourite holiday is Christmas! In the Philippines we call it “Noche Buena” which actually translates to “Good Night.” We celebrate this holiday on the night of the 24th by having a huuuuuuuge celebration with a bunch of food and we bring together families and friends. The main event for me is actually all the food [haha] so on this night, we stay up eating and celebrating. When it hits midnight (so it’s the 25th) we actually open our presents! So it’s super super fun and growing up I actually didn’t know that not everyone did this – I thought everyone opened presents on the night of the 24th so I felt super lucky to be able to open presents earlier than everyone else who had to wait until the morning [haha]. After presents we just hang out for a bit before going to bed!”
– Francine, editorial team.
Nyepi ‘Day of Silence’, Bali, Indonesia
Yi Peng ‘Lanturn Festival’, Thailand
Panagbenga ‘Flower Festival’, Baguio City, Philippines
Songkran ‘Thai New Year’, Thailand