Telling Ghost Stories Is A Lost Tradition On Christmas Eve
By Jeffrey Peterson, For The Deseret News
"While reading a list of all the modern Christmas traditions that were either borrowed from pagan winter festivals or invented by the English during the mid-19th century, it's remarkable to see how little Christmas has changed over the past 160 years.
People still send Christmas cards, decorate evergreen trees, go door-to-door caroling and stuff stockings with candy. Christmas, at least as most Americans celebrate it, really is a product of Victorian England.
In the last few decades, though, perhaps one of the most interesting Victorian Christmas traditions has been almost completely lost from memory.
“Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories,” wrote British humorist Jerome K. Jerome as part of his introduction to an anthology of Christmas ghost stories titled “Told After Supper“ in 1891. “Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about specters.”
The practice of gathering around the fire on Christmas Eve to tell ghost stories was as much a part of Christmas for the Victorian English as Santa Claus is for us.
Traces of this now-forgotten tradition occasionally appear in noticeable places at Christmastime, although their significance is generally overlooked.
One verse of Andy Williams’ classic Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” for instance, clearly says, “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”
The most obvious example of how Victorian ghost stories have persisted to some degree in modern Christmas celebrations, however, is of course Charles Dickens’ own “ghostly little story” (as he calls it in the introduction) “A Christmas Carol.”
Some argue that Dickens’ Christmas ghost story single-handedly saved the winter holiday from dying out during the Industrial Revolution. At a time when England was no longer celebrating Christmas, Dickens reintroduced many centuries-old traditions with his instant holiday classic.
It has become so much a part of Christmas in its various film adaptations and theatrical versions that people don't even wonder why Dickens chose, of all things, four spectral visitors to bring about Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from miserly curmudgeon to selfless philanthropist.
Isn’t there something inherently unseasonal about ghosts? Don’t ghosts belong with all the ghouls and goblins of Halloween?
Not so for Victorian England!"
To finish reading this article, you can click the link below:
(From about.com/haunted Christmas)
Have you had a haunted Christmas when you have had an experience with ghosts or poltergeists? Or have you had a genuine sighting of what you believe to be the real Santa Claus?
Below are some reader-submitted stories from people who have!
Christmas Eve Phone Call
- "In June of 2002 my brother died. We were extremely close. He lived in the Midwest...I live on the West Coast. Every Christmas eve ..after his family opened gifts they would call to wish me a Merry Christmas. Christmas Eve of 2002, I returned home from shopping and noticed that there was a message on the answering machine. When I listened, there was much static. Within the static however, you could hear my brother's voice saying "Merry Christmas" and then inserted my nickname that no one else knew. Without saying a word, I had the rest of the family listen to the message. Every one of them said "It sounds like Uncle Pat wishing you Merry Christmas!" There is no doubt in my mind that it was him....however that could have happened?! I haven't heard anything since, but it was THE BEST GIFT EVER!"
Santa At The Bedroom Door
It was 1961 on Christmas Eve. We were living in Boardman, Ohio. My bedroom was at the end of the house. I went to sleep on Christmas Eve.
I don't know what time it was, but I know it was very late when I suddenly woke up. I was staring at my bedroom door, which was catty-corner from my bed.
The door slowly opened, and I squinted my eyes shut just a bit because I didn't want my mother or father to catch me up in the middle of the night. There was a nightlight in the hallway and one behind the dresser in my room, so there was some light.
I was so astonished, however, at who opened the bedroom door. I found myself looking at a man dressed in a red suit. He had white trim around his waist, like fur, a long white beard, and was wearing a Santa hat. He had red pants and black boots. If I close my eyes, I can still see Santa standing in my door, it made such an impression on me.
He stood there and looked at me for a few seconds, then closed the door. I pulled the blankets over my head for a while - I was so scared! Finally, I looked out, but no one was there.
The next day, I asked my mother if she or my father had been out of bed the previous night. My mother said no; in fact, my sister was only four months old, and my mother said she had slept through the night for the first time, and neither of my parents had gotten up, they were tired and they both slept.
So I don't know who or what looked in my bedroom that night. I told my mother I saw Santa, and she got really mad at me and told me that I did not. But I know what I saw... it was Santa Claus. And I swear this story did happen! I know I wasn't dreaming!"
He sees you when you're sleeping...
He knows when you're awake...
Air Traffic Santa
"I grew up in a suburb of Memphis, TN. In the 80s, I was 8 or 9 years old. My parents and I were coming home from a Christmas party on Christmas Eve.
When we pulled up in the driveway we saw Santa Claus in a sleigh hovering above our house. All you could hear were sleigh bells. The sleigh was illuminated so that we could see Santa (in full outfit) in the sleigh!
I remember seeing reindeer but I don’t know how many there were. Santa waved at us and flew off in the sleigh. I’ll never forget it and I’ll never forget my Dad’s face of total shock. He was a air traffic controller and when he went back to work after the holidays he asked about it and nothing came up.
Another bizarre twist, last year (2009) on Black Friday, I was waiting in line at a local Target store and broke out into conversation with another lady in line.
We were talking about Christmas shopping and all of a sudden out of nowhere, she mentioned that her brother had seen Santa Claus in his sleigh 2 years before.
I stood with my mouth wide open because I couldn’t believe it.
I have never told this story to anyone other than family members because I have feared people would make fun of me, but I know I’m not alone! Every Christmas Eve, I still think about him and look outside to try to get a glimpse."
"I'm 34 now, but I still remember this vividly, like it happened just then. I was 10 years old, and it was a stormy night on Christmas Eve.
I was lying in bed, unafraid of the storm raging outside because I'd never really been subjected to any horrifying material at that young age. But suddenly, as lighting flashed, a dark figure was lit up in the sky, and it looked a lot like a chariot driven by many horned horses.
This stirred up my old belief in Santa Claus, but naturally I dismissed it because I'd found my parents writing on the presents from "Santa" two years earlier. Suddenly, another bolt of lighting ripped across the sky and the figure was gone.
I relaxed and was about to close my eyes when suddenly another bolt of lighting flashed accompanied by booming thunder. I sat upright, and looked around the room.
There, in the corner on my chair, was a fat figure. He looked up with bloodshot eyes and growled, "Hello, sonny. You've been a NAUGHTY boy." I remember he said the word "naughty" in a ferocious tone, and it scared the hell out of me.
He stood up and he was suddenly illuminated by my desk light. He was fat, with a bushy white beard and red rosy cheeks and a red nose plus the jolly red suit, but his eyes were bloodshot and he had CLAWED hands and CLAWED feet sticking out of torn boots.
I was about to scream, but he jumped on me and pushed me against the wall. He was too strong, and I couldn't struggle free, but somehow, I managed to pry my face from his gruesome hands, and I managed a loud scream for a couple of seconds.
The "Santa" grabbed my throat and squeezed, and just as I was blacking out, my parents came running in. I just saw them burst through the door as I went out cold.
The next morning, my parents told me I had been screaming and I was pressed against the wall for absolutely no reason, but my neck was bruised and I had scratch marks on my chest.
I went to have it checked out, but we never found the cause.
I never saw the Evil Santa again, but that sure as hell made me question whether or not he really exists, and whether he is good or evil.
He's coming to town!
Ho Ho Ho...
When Ya Gotta Go...Ya Gotta Go!
"I heard this story from my husband years ago. He was small, probably around six. His family was spending Xmas at the old family homestead. He was in bed when he heard a noise outside and ran to the window to see what it was; what should he see, but a fat, white bearded man walking through the swirling snow towards the house. He crept downstairs to get a good look at Santa. How disappointed he was when he discovered it was only his grandfather in his red “union suit” on his way back from the outhouse!" ;)
Ok kids...that's it for now, but thanks so much for visiting my blog today! I know it's after Christmas, but it was always a tradition before my mother passed away, to celebrate Christmas right up til the first of the year, and now I'm keeping that tradition going myself. Thanks for joining me! :)