27 March 2010, by Tan Yi Lin

Tis The Season To Have A Baby

… FA-LA-LA-LA-LA, LA-LA-LA-LA!

During my first two years in secondary school, my classmates and I would be subjected to singing lessons once a week, part of the school’s attempt to transform us bumbling preteens into musically-inclined young ladies. While learning to sing Christmas carols during one lesson, the music teacher enlightened us to the significance of the seemingly-nonsensical phrase “falalalala, lalalala” in the song Deck The Halls, which was loosely translated to mean, “what I wish to do to you next, I cannot say.” Cue girlish giggles all round.

Unfortunately, while searching for sources to confirm what I remember being told almost 18 years ago in the school hall, all I could find were websites proclaiming the cheerfully-sung phrase to be “meaningless syllables in a refrain”.  But trust me, if any age-old Christmas carol was revealed to have a saucy meaning behind it, I’m positively sure a 13-year-old girl would have remembered that quite correctly.

In Singapore and many other countries, August is said to be the month when the most births are recorded every year without fail. Counting backwards, the December festivities seem to be the main culprit for bringing forth the ninth month baby boom. (See, I told you Deck The Halls was a highly suggestive song to be belting out while throwing back glasses of red wine and sherry!)

So are there any other instances that might lead to a sporadic spike in the number of pregnancies during the other months of the year?

Children of the Carnaval

Festivals are the epitome of seductive time and place. Since ancient times (think spring festivals, harvest festivals, European maypole festivals, etc.) festivals have represented a break in a person’s daily routine, when revelers can plunge fully, freely and wholeheartedly into pleasure and play. The real world stops and fantasy takes over. Free from work and responsibility, singles and couples throw themselves at one another in a search for love, sex and just nights of hot sweaty fun.

Rio de Janeiro hosts one of the world’s greatest carnivals in February. The dizzying spectacle of masks, feathers, sequins and samba throws the whole city into a weeklong euphoria. Come late November to early December each year, thousands more babies are born compared to the other months, many of them belonging to single mothers. They are the Children of the Carnaval.

I can’t find any evidence that happy partygoers dancing their hearts out at New Orleans’ yearly Mardi Gras parade meet with the same fate as their Brazilian counterparts. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that unbridled festival joy can get to you whether you’re North or South American.

Unfortunately, young couples attending Singapore’s equivalent — the Chingay — don’t seem to be infected with the same fiery passion on our parade grounds. We need to turn up the heat here!

Blackout Baby Boom

Ever heard of the urban legend that birth rates spike exactly nine months after a major blackout in the city?

It all started with the famous New York blackout of November 1965, which left 25 million people in the United States and parts of Canada without electricity. The power outage was reported to have resulted in a sharp increase in births in August 1966.

Unfortunately, the actual statistics proved to be unimpressive and the claim, false. It turns out that we human beings are more practical than romantic. During a blackout, couples may be kept separated from each other due to standstills in traffic and public transport. Others who have the fortune of being plunged into sudden darkness while together in the bedroom — but without air-conditioning — have no intention of getting hotter and sweatier than they already are. Sex is the last thing on people’s minds.

However, amorous intentions can thrive in cold dark places. In January 2008, a two-day power outage in eastern Netherlands resulted in an obvious increase in the number of births nine months later — 44% more than in September 2007. In a country with one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, all it took was a lack of heating to get residents to go to bed early and busy themselves with keeping each other warm.

Lights Out!

So in a country that is blessed with year-round summers and is too efficient to suffer major blackouts for long, what can be done to force Singaporeans into procreation?

Nothing. But with Earth Hour taking place recently on 27 March, the Husband and I decided to switch off all the lights in our home from 8.30pm to 9.30pm and voluntarily subject our selves to one hour of complete darkness. After all, since unexpected blackouts pushed American couples into survival mode instead of sex mode, perhaps our carefully timed self-inflicted power outage might create the right mood for romance.

We are sad to report that nothing productive took place on the living room couch during Earth Hour. With all the fans and air-conditioning switched off, our flat was the equivalent of a furnace on that windless humid night. Hot and bothered, we shifted about uncomfortably at the far ends of the sofa — it felt too icky to have our bodies touch for too long — each tapping lazily on our iPhones, furiously perspiring until the couch got sticky for all the wrong reasons. Come 9.30pm, we heaved a sigh of relief and flicked the switches back on, bringing the fan to a high-speed whir. 

With Earth Hour trailing far behind us now, I think we’ll just have to look forward to the cooler weather and year-end festivities in December to set the stage for pro-creation. Unless we can find some erotic pleasure in dressing up as Easter Bunnies this April.

Hmmmm… now that’s an interesting thought.

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