The Christmas we celebrate today has not changed much from that of Victorian England; decorating an evergreen, sending Christmas cards, caroling, and stuffing stockings. The exception to this is an old fashioned ghost story, told around a fire, with a drink in hand.
Have you really paid attention to a particular phrase from the popular Christmas carol, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year …
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of …
Missed it, didn’t you. Telling scary stories at Christmas time was a long-held English tradition; remember, ‘in the day’ people did not have television; people gathered together, drank and told stories. Only traces of this once beloved tradition remain: singing the above carol and listening (or watching) Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Did you know that the celebration of Christmas was almost abolished? In the mid-1700’s, Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell argued that in no place in the Bible were Christians told to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. December the 25th was chosen not only because of its association with pagan and Roman celebrations but due to the symbology of the death and rebirth of the light. This death symbology and that December 25th (the winter solstice) is the longest night of the year makes this night a good fit for ghost stories.
So as the days darken, and the cold finds all the little cracks and crannies into your home, throw another log onto the fire, grab some nog, and tell a tall tale or two. For your Christmas ghost story telling pleasure, I offer these:
- A Strange Christmas Game by Mrs. J.H. Riddell
- The Mezzotint from Ghost Stories of an Antiquity by M.R. James
- Between the Lights by E.F. Benson
- Haunted Christmas retold by S.E. Schlosser
- Smee by A.M. Burrage
- Christmas Reunion by Sir Andrew Caldecott
For those that prefer a more visual tale, you can watch The Others or Sixth Sense.