In the letter, About Halloween and Christmas (CN Dec 30), Ms Ellen Tan refuted criticism of Halloween by claiming it was based on the Feast of All Saints, and said that Christmas celebrations also contain elements “not mentioned in the Bible” like Christmas trees, gift-giving and the Three Kings.

But what was condemned was secular society’s distortion of Halloween. The quaint custom of children dressing up to “trick or treat” neighbours has turned into a horror show.

Adults dress as zombies or mutilated corpses – the bloodier, the better.

This idea that the dead are terrifyingly evil is diametrically opposed to the Christian belief that the Holy Souls in Purgatory are our brethren who need our prayers.

The rituals of any celebration should be judged by how well they express the meaning of the feast. The way Halloween is celebrated nowadays clearly obscures its Christian roots.

As for the “non-biblical” Christmas traditions Ms Tan cites, CatholicNews ran articles in the same issue explaining the Scriptural basis for the Christmas tree (Christmas Trees ‘Remind Believers Of Christ’s Light’) and gift-giving (Making Christmas Meaningful Despite Commercialisation).

These developed organically from the Church’s living tradition. Their validity does not depend on whether they were explicitly “mentioned in the Bible”.

She wrote, “The Church sings We Three Kings when there is no mention in the Bible that there were three, and they weren’t even kings.”

The Church never declared that there were three kings. The liturgical texts for Epiphany speak only of the Magi. The hymn reflects popular piety based on Scripture – “three” from Matthew 2:11, “kings” from Isaiah 60:3 – rather than Church teaching proper.

Ms Tan’s claim that “Chinese New Year [CNY] has also been adopted into the liturgical calendar of Singapore” also needs clarification.

CNY, a secular festival, is not part of the liturgical year. The CNY Mass is a votive Mass offered for a special intention, like nuptial and funeral Masses.

We also have the National Day Mass, but this does not mean National Day is part of the Church’s liturgical calendar either.

Estella Young

Related Articles:

Letter: About Halloween and Christmas

Bishop: Halloween is not for Catholics

Letter: Not rooted in pagan celebration

Letter: Clarifying some points

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