Please allow me to clarify the misconceptions of Ms Estella Young (Non-biblical Traditions?, CN Jan 13) and Louis Figueroa (Not Rooted In Pagan Celebration, CN Jan 13) and to state what I wanted to say in my letter that was glossed over by your readers both in print and online.

Ms Young mentioned that “adults dress as zombies or mutilated corpses – the bloodier, the better” is not the point I’m saying.

The point I am making is that Halloween can be redeemed by going back to the early practices of our Irish Catholics and to help our children celebrate Halloween by praying for the dead as what All Saints and All Souls are all about, and that we need not be afraid of the dead as what the secular world teaches.

Secondly, all celebrations whether it be Chinese New Year or National Day (as Ms Young points out) – that “it is a time where we honour our elders, visit friends and family to spread good tidings of God’s peace and blessings, and even have a special Mass where we thank God for a good Lunar New Year ahead” – are congruous with our Catholic faith and so are teaching points for parents as first catechists.

Mr Figueroa misread my sentence: “Jesus wasn’t even born on Dec 25, it has its roots as a pagan celebration of the Sun God.” His point, “the Dec 25 feast of Sol Invictus appears to have been the Romans’ attempt to paganise a Christian festival, rather than the other way around”, is exactly what I said in the sentence above.

To explain what I was trying to bring across is that the New Testament gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth. In the fourth century AD, Christians imported the Saturnalia festival – Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week-long period of lawlessness celebrated between Dec 17 and 25.

It was imported hoping to take the pagan masses in with it.

Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.

The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, Dec 25, to be Jesus’ birthday.

The early Christians who first observed the Nativity on Dec 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that month, but because the heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those pagan holidays metamorphose into Christian ones.

Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681.

The point I was making with this is that we do not stop celebrating Christmas just because the secular world celebrates it with excessive dining, wining and partying.

We should use Christmas as a teaching tool that Christmas is about God giving us His Son Jesus and not the copious food, wine, presents and parties.

Ellen Tan
Singapore

Managing Editor: With this letter, we close the discussion on the topic

Related Articles:

Bishop: Halloween is not for Catholics

Letter: About Halloween and Christmas

Letter: Non-biblical traditions?

Letter: Not rooted in pagan celebration


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