SANTA IS BACK IN SUPERMARKET
Exactly 1 month ago something changed. A familiar taste of lifestyle was back, at first not fully noticeable, but that blurry moment passed quickly. The music was self-explanatory and the red hats with bells marked the familiar decoration that can only come with Christmas, which usually starts now beginning of November (here in Singapore the wide agreement seems to be that decoration before 8th Nov is not prudent). Santa seems to be in good agreement with the local stores to brand public life around that time now with his distinguishable colors, artifacts and (especially) the ubiquitous Christmas songs.
ABOUT COUNTING UP AND DOWN
This is the third time I actually spend Christmas in this tropical metropolis. There are two particular things I’d like to highlight. Counting down: It is common to do a countdown in pubs even on midnight to Christmas Day (24th to 25th December), a practice that caught me totally by surprise 2 years ago when I shared drinks with a German friend at Chijmes when the croud suddeny got loud shortly before midnight; who would imagine that a venerable, supposedly rather quiet family event gets the people to celebrate it in the same way as New Year’s Eve or Chinese New Year? The normal answer: ‘Well, Singaporeans like to count down on everything’. Fair enough then.
The second and much more important ‘counting issue’ is that the concept of Advent Calenders is unheard of here. While kids all around Germany anxiously open a new door on their Christmas calender each day from 1st to 24th of December to find some piece of yummy chocolate or toy (it supposedly makes the waiting period before opening presents more bearable), most of the Singaporeans I met are not even aware of their existence.
Why is this so? Christmas as an event has conquered Singapore almost fully…if it was economically and scientifically possible the country’s leaders would surely try to let it snow a few times to give its people also some taste of White Christmas. But we are limited to hearing ‘Rudolph the Rednose Raindeer’ all around Orchard Road and enjoy the endless buying spree plus one public holiday on the 25th of December. If every possible economic niche has already been exploited, why then are there no Advent Calenders around to be sold kids?
AT THE MELTING POINT
Well, after finally receiving 2 Xmas calendars from my family in Germany via post I found out quickly why it is a hopeless venture to find any in Singapore…Letting a chocolate filled calendar hang on the wall for more than 3 weeks is simply no fun because:
1) the chocolate remains in a constant, but semi-melted physical state, where it is impossible to dig it out of the seperate ‘windows’ without causing a sweet little mess. No way to retrieve every last nugget of chocolate without forcefully working into the plastic form with the available and (supposedly) clean and hungry fingers
2) Due to 1) it is understood that it is virtually impossible to clean out a window completely from chocolate. What will inevitably happen to the gracefully hanged calendar? An army of well-trained Singaporean ants is going to spot an incredible feast, attacks the new target by quickly laying out a perfect supply chain between calendar-chocolate and wherever-the-nest-may-be. Singaporean ants are of course as efficient as the rest of the country and sniff such a ‘free lunch’ opportunity (gracefully provided by an ignorant German) in an instant, to be mercilessly exploited.
Especially fact 2) is not really desirable and should be avoided, as the ensuing ant party would spread the word quite quickly within the ant kingdom and the small guests are not likely to wait before the 24th of December to penetrate the door with the same number and the biggest piece of all.
The bitter but for Singaporeans self-explanatory solution? Off you go, to the fridge or freezer. Which takes all the fun away for me who just wanted to have a little piece of childhood back. No big red Santa hanging around in the home giving away a piece of sweetness everyday. What is obvious to the locals, is of course painful to me. Somewhat gone the previous naive feeling of excitement, replaced by one thought: Can it be that I just looked in the wrong places previously? Maybe I should go back to the stores and look in the frozen-food areas of the supermarkets…?
Wishing an enjoyable 3rd Advent!