Modern Singapore’s story began shortly after the British arrived on our sunny shores. They recognised Singapore’s potential to become a thriving trading port. But to realise this dream, they needed some serious manpower!
At the same time, economic and political unrest in China spurred many Chinese, especially from coastal cities in southern China, to make long journeys by boat in search of better fortunes and opportunities in Singapore and other places.
Despite being reliant on imported labour, the British mainly saw the Chinese and other foreign communities as labour to grow the economy, and were not interested in their welfare.
Celebrating religious festivals was a significant way for early Chinese migrants to pass on traditional values. As different dialect groups had different customs, the way we celebrate festivals in Singapore became more diverse too!
For instance, did you know the variety of mooncakes we enjoy today during the Mid-Autumn Festival is due to the co-existence of different dialect groups in Singapore?
From music, to film and even design, our rojak of cultures is the foundation for our distinctively Singaporean identity.
Did you know that Singapore had a golden era of film-making from the late-1940s to early-1970s? At the time, many Malay films were shot and produced by Cathay Organisation and Shaw Brothers!
In 1960, Lion City (狮子城 in Chinese and Bandar Raya Singapura in Malay) was the first Chinese film produced by Cathay in postwar Singapore. Hundreds turned up to audition for roles in the film, which was produced by the newly formed Chinese section of Cathay.
Singapore has long been praised by foodies for its tasty varied cuisines, thanks to the contributions of the various southern Chinese dialect groups and other ethnic groups that settled here in the early years.
The Cantonese, who have started many restaurants, are known for their culinary techniques like flash frying, deep-frying and steaming.
Fun fact: Originally a Hakka dish of stuffed beancurd, yong tau foo was given a different spin by the Cantonese with a greater range of ingredients, and this expanded version is commonly enjoyed in Singapore today!
Did you know that it was the Hainanese who mainly contributed to the rise of coffeeshops in the local food scene from the early 20th century?