The Great Singapore Sale is like Christmas.
Except that nobody complains about the Great Singapore Sale getting over-commercialised because the whole point of the Great Singapore Sale is over-commercialism.
Like Christmas, it is a major island-wide annual sales event loved by shoppers and retailers of all races and religions, but without the downer minor-chord spiritual undertones.
However, unlike Christmas, the GSS offers none of that guilt-freeing pseudo-altruistic rubbish about 'the joy of giving'.
You're shopping for yourself - not your overbearing family, your fairweather friends, your vain-glorious boss, your back-stabbing colleagues or your incompetent underlings, but you, you, you! It's all about you, baby. So no gift-wrapping necessary!
Correction: At the GSS, you are not shopping for yourself, but for your country! Remember when Sars emptied the malls and emaciated the economy two years ago?
The fate of the GSS came to represent the fate of the Republic itself. Shopping, no longer a mere national pastime, became a matter of life and death. Buying that pair of lavender Bonia open-toe wedges at 15 per cent off at Robinson's became an act of profound patriotism.
Unlike the Great Singapore Sale, Christmas cannot be cancelled or postponed, Dr Seuss notwithstanding.
However, although the season can begin whenever we want, like October, it absolutely, positively must end promptly at midnight on Dec 25. Thank heavens someone invented the post-Christmas sale. Can a Post-Great Singapore Sale sale be far behind?
Unlike Christmas, we don't send cards wishing each other a 'Merry Great Singapore Sale'.
But, like Christmas, the Great Singapore Sale falls conveniently on the long school holiday for the kids to avoid jostling with the maddening weekend crowd when maxing out their parents' credit cards.
Unlike Christmas, there are no songs written about the Great Singapore Sale - yet.
But if you need some musical accompaniment to your bargain-hunting, you can download 'Shop Around', either the original Miracles' version from the '60s or Captain and Tennille's version from the '70s will do fine.
Something from the '80s? You can't go wrong with the Pet Shop Boys' Shopping.
For something more recent, there's Candy Shop by 50 Cent, which is not about shopping at all (sample lyric: 'I take you to the candy shop, I'll let you lick the lollipop'), but at least contains the word 'shop' is in the title.
Like Christmas, the GSS coincides with the Hollywood blockbuster movie season, perfect timing to hawk all those Star Wars and Batman movie merchandising. Well, the kids on holiday need to milk their parents' credit cards on something, don't they?
This November, the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will lead the holiday blockbuster charge along with all the attendant merchandising, just in time for - what else? - Christmas.
It will be the young wizard's second major appearance of the year. The new book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be out soon. When? Why, in two weeks during the GSS, of course.
Finally, unlike Christmas, the GSS has no special trees, no Orchard Road light-up and no mythical obese elderly Caucasian male who likes children a little too much.
And the difference that makes the difference? No year-end bonus to spend.
- Published in The New Paper, 3 July 2005
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