At first, some thought it was an early April Fool's joke. Then, as the news spread that Aug 7 will be a public holiday to mark the country's 50th birthday, the planning started.
For some, the extra-long weekend - four days stretching from Aug 7 to 10 - promises a welcome break from work and school, and for others a chance to go on SG50 outings with their families or even a trip abroad.
Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, hopes Singaporeans would stay and celebrate the Jubilee Weekend.
She said her residents were surprised by the news yesterday. "They are happy, and some were even asking if it's true or not," she said, laughing. "I hope people will take the time to celebrate National Day with their friends and family - at home, in Singapore."
Freelance writer Geraldine Wee, 34, is looking forward to taking advantage of the various activities planned for the weekend. "The holiday means more time for family bonding. The discounts and free admissions to attractions will be appreciated by families as well."
Medical sales representative Jace Tan, 31, is already planning four days of unwinding at home. "It will be like an extended rest for me," she said. "I'll watch TV, do yoga, maybe do some shopping."
Travel agencies are confident their business will get a boost. "I think we will definitely see people make use of long weekends for impromptu travel plans," said Ms Alicia Seah, director of marketing communications at Dynasty Travel.
She pointed out that with just four days of leave from Monday to Thursday, one can enjoy a 10-day holiday from Aug 1 till Aug 10.
Engineering businessman Frederick Wong, 40, said: "I'll probably take my family on a short trip within the region, maybe to a nice beach in Thailand."
While it may be inevitable that some will go away, Mr Zainal Sapari, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, urged Singaporeans to stay and celebrate SG50 as one nation.
"This is Singapore's 50th birthday - it's not every year we have such an occasion - and I'd like to see Singaporeans show solidarity and celebrate as a nation," he said.
Singapore Management University associate professor of law Eugene Tan saw the additional holiday as a nice gesture to mark the occasion.
"The Jubilee celebration is a special occasion, and I see the holiday as a very nice gesture," he said. "The many positive reactions to the holiday reflect the very hectic pace of life in Singapore, and this provides a rare opportunity for people to spend more time with their families."
The news set social media abuzz yesterday, with many netizens cheering the unexpected gift, even as some grumbled that they will have to work on Aug 8, a Saturday, and so will not get a four-day break.
With a whole host of activities taking place across the island during the Jubilee weekend, some were already anticipating a crush. Sales executive Francis Tan, 46, said: "I would like to take advantage of the discounts and free admissions to places, but I'm worried about the crowds."
Some parents went to Education Minister Heng Swee Keat's Facebook page, where he announced the holiday as chairman of the Singapore 50 (SG50) steering committee, to point out that students have common tests soon after the National Day break.
They urged him to tell teachers to give less homework and let children enjoy the special weekend.
For 66-year-old Mogan Kali, a food stall helper, the extra holiday is a chance to reflect on Singapore's progress into a safe, advanced country.
"It's good that there is a holiday- there should be something special for Singapore's 50th anniversary.
It is a chance to enjoy ourselves but also remember what the founding fathers have done. I'm proud to see how Singapore has grown over the 50 years."
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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