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Ghosts for Christmas

The lyrics to the newly-traditional Christmas carol “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” contain hints pointing “observant” listeners back to the olden days, despite the fact that the song is of recent vintage, written and released in the 1960s. For example, consider the following: “There’ll be parties for hosting, Marshmallows for toasting, And caroling out in the snow, There’ll be scary ghost stories And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” The part about the “glories of Christmases” past always makes me think of the Arthurian story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which begins at a Christmastime feast.

But it’s the part concerning the telling of ghost stories I want to focus on just now. Did you know that the telling of scary stories used to be an integral part of the annual Christmas celebration? There are those of us who believe it ought to be again.

As with so much of our familiar Christmas celebrations, the tradition of reading and telling ghost stories on Christmas was established by the Victorians. Wrote this guy named Jerome Jerome in 1891: “Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories. Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood.” Indeed, some of us still do. We need to get back to this practice. I like to think I’m doing my part, as I sit typing these words on Christmas Eve.

And to all a good night…

TheCheezman • December 28, 2018


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