By Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan
SINGAPORE – Every year on October 31, it’s normal for American teenagers to visit a Halloween party dressed in an eerily looking frock or make rounds in their neighborhood, collecting candies worth a fortune.
But in Singapore – a country where the lifestyle and culture is heavily influenced by America – youth rarely celebrate this American festival.
The need to excel in national examinations has forced numerous youths to ditch Halloween parties in favour of their mathematics textbook.
The school year in Singapore commences in January and in October, the close of the school year is marked by end-of-year examinations for most students and national examinations for all graduating primary, secondary and junior college students.
These tests determine if an individual will be promoted to the next grade or is admitted into a prestigious course for their tertiary, or university, education.
In Singapore's highly competitive academic arena, only exceptional results can guarantee a place in a coveted course. Most students are willing to neglect Halloween celebrations to prepare for excelling in the examinations so that they will be able to pursue their dream.
Given that Singapore was literally transformed in 50 years from an overgrown slum into a cosmopolitan metropolis, some parents – who lived under different circumstances than their kids – have never known about Halloween.
Like any other night party, some parents in Singapore view Halloween with great suspicion. They fear their children might partake in illicit activities or might have their safety compromised.
"Some parents fear for the safety of their kids and restrict their timings of which they are allowed out," said Rachannaa Velayudhum, a student who is 16.
“There was one time when I went to a friend's house for Halloween,” Velayudhum added. “However, like my friends' parents, my mother – who was concerned about my well-being – ordered me to be home by 8 p.m. The party practically ended by 7 p.m.”
Despite that most youth in Singapore are unable to celebrate Halloween night, their sacrifice is often compensated by memorable post-examination activities organised by their schools, families and friends. Those camps, outings and workshops help to make up for the fun we missed on Halloween.
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