Sunday 27 November 2011

Will Thanksgiving (or Black Friday) be as big as Halloween in Singapore?

A month ago in this column, I suggested as a joke that since Singaporeans are already celebrating Halloween, we might as well celebrate other American holidays like Thanksgiving which was on Thursday.

At least, I thought I was joking (whether I’m actually funny is irrelevant).

It turned out I was prescient.

Because just over two weeks later, I saw in The Straits Times an ad by local supermarket chain FairPrice Finest with the headline: “Joyful feasting this Thanksgiving”.

Okay, a couple of things.

If I ask my wife for some “joyful feasting” tonight, she would probably say she has a headache.

Another thing is that I think this is the first time I’ve seen an Thanksgiving ad in Singapore.

Sure, it was only one ad and I assume it was just targeted at Americans living here, but this is how it starts. This must be how Halloween first gained a foothold on our formerly devil worship-free island years ago.

Before you know it, local netizens will be calling for the resignation of the CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore after she replaces Thanksgiving Turkey Day at Jurong Bird Park with some Deepavali event.

Maybe President Tony Tan Keng Yam will pardon a turkey at the Istana. Maybe Singaporeans will start watching American football.

Okay, now I’m just being ridiculous, I know.

I mean how can I expect Singaporeans to care about a sport played by teams in a country practically half way around the world from us?

(Oh, by the way, how’s Man U doing this season?)

But American football and presidential turkey pardons notwithstanding, I believe that Thanksgiving’s insidious takeover of Singapore is imminent and inescapable, thanks to our fixation with American entertainment and its accessibility through the Internet.

So to get ahead of the game, I decided to practise celebrating Thanksgiving this year by listing what I’m thankful for – and what I’m not thankful for.

For a start, I’m not thankful that Thanksgiving Day was also PSLE Resultsgiving Day.

But I’m thankful that my daughter’s results were good enough to get her into the Express stream.

I am not thankful that my 12-year-old daughter is now getting hooked the Twilight book series.

But I’m thankful that the latest Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part 1, is rated PG13, so that my daughter is too young to see it and be spared the vampire sex scene.

I’m also thankful that Sitex is back this weekend, so that I can get a good deal on a new hard drive to replace yet another hard drive that broke down which I bought at Comex earlier this year. Or was it at the IT Show? Maybe it was the PC Show...

But I’m not thankful Sitex is held at Singapore Expo, which is a long way from my home in Choa Chu Kang. Maybe I’ll shop for a new hard drive online.

Which brings me to what I’m thankful for most of all – Black Friday.

Not named after how some 12-year-olds and their parents felt the day after getting disappointing PSLE results, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when the Christmas shopping season kicks off in the US in earnest.

Ironically, even though Singaporeans don’t care much about Thanksgiving (yet), Black Friday is another matter, thanks to the Internet (again) and the universal appeal of getting something at a discount.

Last week, I saw ads by local companies such as vPost and comGateway promoting Black Friday deals. It’s like the US version of The Great Singapore Sale crammed into a single day with the convenience of online shopping for Singaporeans (thus avoiding getting pepper sprayed).

If you missed Black Friday, don’t worry. Just be thankful for Cyber Monday tomorrow.

So you’ll still have a chance to “feast” on more good deals. Just don’t tell the wife.

- Published in The New Paper, 27 November 2011