There’s a new anthology being published that I’m a part of: Haunted Yuletide. But did you know that telling ghost stories on Christmas was a tradition for hundreds of years?
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, “For the last hundred years, Americans have kept ghosts in their place, letting them out only in October, in the run-up to our only real haunted holiday, Halloween. But it wasn’t always this way, and it’s no coincidence that the most famous ghost story is a Christmas story.”
Most everyone is familiar with the Christmas ghost story of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, which he wrote in 1843. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The spirits show him the errors of his ways and he’s transformed into a kinder, gentler and generous man.
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 the
Christmases long, long ago
– “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Edward Pola & George Wyle
It was in the Victorian era that telling ghost stories became an indispensable custom of the Christmas season. Families relished the chance to gather around the hearth on Christmas Eve to try to scare one another half to death with tales of mysterious, menacing apparitions making their appearances.
I’d love to the return of telling of ghost stories at Christmas and this new anthology might just help the tradition make its comeback.
Haunting Yuletide will be published by Immortal Works. From editor Jay Barnson, “We have some outstanding stories for this book that range from heart-wrenching to comedy, and from creepy to terrifying. We plan to release in October so we can take advantage of both the Halloween and Christmas/holiday season.”
My short story is titled, “Silent Night.” It tells the story of Hannah’s first visit to the farm of her fiancé’s parents. She’d always loved hearing the stories of his family’s Christmas traditions—but there was one holiday tradition Liam never told her about. After the Christmas dinner, the family retires to the living room and Hannah realizes everyone is on edge. As she sets down her cup of hot cocoa—oddly without the clink of the china—she realizes the music has faded away and the fire has lost its crackle. The room has become deathly still and glancing up, she notices all eyes are on her, and everyone has the wide eyes of terror.
As Dickens wrote, the ghosts of Christmas are really the past, present and future, swirling around us in the dead of the year. They’re a reminder that we’re all haunted, all the time, by good ghosts and bad, and that they all have something to tell us.