It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year for Ghost Stories
I am officially in it. That's right, I am officially in the holiday spirit! With Christmas right around the corner, the spirit of Christmas hit me hard. I decorated both inside and outside of the house- I'm currently in a competition with my neighbors of our lawn decorations; wait until I bust out with the Christmas dragon!
I even baked cookies while listening to Christmas songs! Well, one song came up that I was singing along to it, made me stop and think.
In the 1963 holiday classic "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams, while he is listing traditions associated with Christmas in one of the verses he says:
"There'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago."
It's a song I hear, and sing along to every year, and not once noticed that verse mentioning "ghost stories", or maybe I just never questioned it until this year.
Being the resident horror lover, I decided to do some investigating.
Turns out, telling ghost stories around a fire on Christmas eve was an old Victorian tradition that lasted well into the turn of the 20th century. It also has to do with the history of Christmas.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Christmas was originally a Pagan holiday. The Christmas you and I know was originally a Winter Solstice celebration and the festival known as "Yule". With the days cut shorter, the Pagans viewed mid-winter as a time when light dies and the veil between the world of the living and dead is most thin.
One of the traditions of the Winter Solstice celebration that transitioned over into the Christmas we now celebrate was the telling of ghost stories. The evidence is clear in stories like Charles Dickens' 1843 tale "A Christmas Carol"- which was originally titled "A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas."
American author Henry James introduced the tradition to the U.S. with his story "The Turn of the Screw" published in 1898. Additionally, American goth legend Edgar Allan Poe set his most famous poem "The Raven" in "the bleak December". The tradition continued into the 20th century when magazines would run ghost stories in their Christmas issues.
I kind of love it, and I can also understand it.
Christmas itself can be very scary.
Take for instance Krampus, and Santa is a pretty scary dude himself. A guy who "sees you when you're sleeping" and who "knows if you've been bad or good" and when you're not good you get punished, or coal in your stocking.
The holidays can bring out the worst in people. But what is it exactly about the holidays that makes people crabby? Is it the nonstop Christmas music? The exhausting task of hunting down the perfect gift for someone? Maybe it's all the lights and decorations? Or maybe it's something far more sinister that turns many of us into Scrooges.
This is the perfect year to bring this great tradition back!
LOOK: See what Christmas was like the year you were born