For the last few days, my little girl has been skipping around singing ghostly songs and telling ghostly stories.
When I try to explain to her that ghost stories are for Hallowe’en, she looks at me like I’m a ghost and could never possibly understand this apparently wonderful Christmas tradition.
So, I’ve been thinking. What about Christmas makes my little girl get all spooky? Maybe it’s that song, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, with the lyrics:
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
She may have heard it on the car radio while we were out and about. And maybe the line “There’ll be scary ghost stories” stuck with her.
Or maybe my little girl is right. Maybe there is something to the lyrics in the song and to her apparent desire to tell stories about ghosts and spirits at this time of year. I had to find out if she was just obsessed with all things scary (which she is, a little bit) or if there was more to it than that. So, I did some searching. And here’s what I came up with:
The article, by Kevin Wuzzardo, ponders the same thing that I have been pondering. Where did ghost stories at Christmas come from?
The comments and responses to his article are informative but too long to list here, so I’ll tell you briefly what I got from it.
It’s likely an old English or Celtic tradition that started in a pre-Christian era and was carried on into Victorian times at Christmas parties.
The reason for telling these stories at Christmas has to do with the time of year: the Winter Solstice or Yuletime Season. It’s a time of death and rebirth of nature and of our souls. It is said that the Old Sun dies at dusk on December 21st (Winter Solstice), and the Sun of the New Year is born at dawn on December 22nd. The New Sun is thought to rejuvenate the aura of the Earth. It is like a mystical cleansing to the spirits and the souls of the dead. Samhain (Hallowe’en) is considered the most haunted time of the year in the Celtic calendar; Yule is the second. Haunting starts on December 6th and goes to December 20th. The spirits are more active as they wait for the rebirth of the Sun’s powers.
So, now that I know all that, and coupled with my belief that children and animals are more in tune with the spirit world than the overly pessimistic adult crowd, I’m going to choose to believe that my little girl is fascinated with Christmas ghost stories because she knows something that I don’t. Something that I hope to learn from her this Yuletime Season.