It’s almost impossible for young parents to avoid Halloween festivities in Singapore. Many preschools celebrate Halloween and ask students to come in costume. Malls and even libraries display Halloween décor with witches, bats and skeletons.
Parents of teens face more serious challenges, as Halloween festivities for adults glamourise horror and creatures of darkness. Some may be tempted by the event’s “spooky” nature to dabble in the occult.
What can parents do in the face of these challenges?
For children: Explain that Halloween glorifies the saints, not witches or ghouls. Put the “Hallow” in “Halloween” by teaching your child about his/her patron saint and other significant family saints. If there are special foods, traditions or songs associated with them, so much the better!
For teens: Discuss what Halloween activities you both consider appropriate. Counter the youthful tendency to dismiss the Church as boring and strait-laced by highlighting the more “fleshly” aspects of her history – the cult of martyrs, holy relics, chapels made of human bones. Explain that the Church is not anti-Halloween because She fears gore, but because the dead must be treated with respect.
If necessary, discuss the lure of the occult, and what to do if these activities are offered at any event s/he attends. If your teen is fascinated by the occult, introduce them to the works of the late Italian exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth. Seek the intercession of Bl. Bartolo Longo, a Satanist priest who returned to the Catholic faith after finding that the occult brought him no peace.
For children: Organise a saints-themed event for your children, or with others from your neighbourhood or parish. Speak of Heaven and of favourite saints. If your child’s preschool celebrates Halloween, encourage him/her to dress as a saint.
For teens: Offer an alternative outing or treat to replace secular Halloween partying. If your child insists on attending a “fright night”, you can dialogue about why s/he feels this is fun, what s/he hopes to gain, and whether the messages conveyed by the event are in line with the Catholic faith.
Halloween is an opportunity to sensitise our teens to how advertisers goad us into showing bravado (false bravery) instead of discerning whether something is objectively virtuous. It takes very little courage to visit a “haunted house” when the ghouls are merely actors in fake blood. Turning around Halloween’s vocabulary of “Do you dare?”, ask your teen: “Do you dare to choose the good?”
To sum up…
Halloween is just one of the many times Catholic families are challenged to live as “the light of the world” (Matt 5:14) while popular culture glorifies the darkness. Catechising our children and encouraging them to emulate the saints and martyrs will help them cultivate the fortitude needed to face the other temptations they will encounter in life.