Singapore’s street food culture called “hawker” dates back to 1800s. It is when immigrants and nomadic communities set up their hand-made stands on sidewalks, squares and parks in order to sell the food they made with mixed recipes from their own culture and also Singapore cuisine to make a living. Today, this culture is legalized by the law implemented by the government and various containers, tents and tarps are built to unify sellers under one roof and to provide them with clean kitchens. The culture is kept alive with tables and chairs put in for the customers to experience the “hawker” culture. One of Singapore’s most loved traditions, “hawker” also is the main source of income for many families while symbolizing the multicultural texture of the country.
According to the decision announced on December 16th, 2020, Singapore’s “hawker” culture is not on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. “’Hawker’ culture is a source of pride for Singapore. It reflects our living heritage and multiculturalism and is an integral part of the daily lives of everyone in Singapore, regardless of age, race, or background. The journey doesn’t end here. We will continue to recognize and celebrate the knowledge and cultural practices of the ‘hawker’ trade, and ensure that future generations of Singaporeans can continue to appreciate, enjoy and cherish our ‘hawker’ culture.” said Singapore’s Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Edwin Tong.
In 2020, 42 submissions were made to be on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list including watchmaking of Switzerland and France, dance of Zambia and beekeeping of Poland. 25 of these submissions made the cut, making the number of the items on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list a total of 463.