Singapore National Day – Time to Make the Babies

August 9th was National Day in Singapore, the annual celebration of Singapore’s statehood. Singapore is 47 years young and the big celebration takes place at the Marina Bay where all of the military groups are on display and the top political leaders including the Prime Minister and the President preside over the festivities. The older Singaporeans (or at least the two taxi drivers I spoke to about the holiday) take a lot of pride in the way Singapore has gone from being a provincial village to a vibrant progressive city in such a short time.

My main concern in the days leading up to this national holiday was whether or not food stores and restaurants would be open (the two taxi drivers gave me conflicting responses to this issue). If not, I might actually need to cook or at least heat up prepared food, a pretty frightening thought given that I still hadn’t quite figured out how to use the oven here, which is both a microwave and a regular oven in one. [The washer/dryer is also one and the same appliance and very complex and frustrating. I have already ruined most of Erez's and Moshe's clothes that they brought. I am not joking about this - apparently you have to sort everything not only by color, but also by material or everything somehow gets stained with color from other clothes even if it's all colored laundry that has been washed millions of times before. And the dryer essentially holds your clothes captive until they are so permanently wrinkled that they are not even useful to reconstitute as dust rags. I have had two different laundry "engineers" up in the apartment consulting with me and one of them told me never to try using cycle number 3 because there is a bug in the way it was programmed and it will run for 9 hours! Back home doing laundry was a task that I merely disliked. But now it has become my biggest domestic fear and a constant source of anxiety].

The most interesting thing about National Day to me was the promotional campaign that accompanied it, which is designed to get young Singaporeans (hopefully not too young) to procreate. Young couples were actually being encouraged by their government to stay home on the holiday and do their civic duty by doing the dirty (I specifically used that phrase to totally embarrass and disgust my kids). It is a big concern in Singapore that birth rates are declining and immigrants and work permit holders (I think that might include me since I recently received my employment pass) are needed to fill jobs. In fact, it was the front page story in the Sunday edition of Singapore’s daily newspaper, The Straits Times. The Wall Street Journal even ran an article about this campaign entitled Thursday’s the Day to Go All the Way for Civic Duty in Singapore (there is no end to the euphemisms for having sex that you can use in discussing this topic). It’s actually a serious topic here in Singapore, but the most bizarre aspect of this campaign is the promotional video that Mentos produced (the Singapore government had nothing to do with it). Mentos – those chewy mints that get entirely stuck in one back tooth – have a big presence in Singapore, I think because eating one is the closest sensation you can get to chewing gum (as I have previously mentioned, the sale or purchase of gum is illegal here). Anyway, Mentos decided to promote the cause of baby-making and made a very suggestive (talk about euphemisms) and funny video which is worth watching.

Monday is another official public holiday here (no work or school – even at the Singapore American School) for Hari Raya Puasa, an important Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. I can’t wait to see what Mentos comes up with for this one.





  1. Another great post. What is the link for the Mentos video? I may have to rethink my packing for the trip based on your washing machine. Won’t be so easy to find new clothes to fit me there. Keep the posts coming. Your public awaits.

    • You can get to the Mentos video by just clinking on the hypertext word “video” in the blog post. I think the washer/dryer and I have come to terms with each other. As long as we sort the clothes by color and material and a few other variables, we have a much lower risk of ruining anything.

  2. Lately I came to your website and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my initial comment. Keep writing, because your posts are impressive!

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