Showing posts from December, 2023

Ghost Stories at Christmas

“It always is Christmas Eve, in a ghost story.” Jerome K. Jerome, Told After Supper (1891)  The peculiar British tradition of sharing ghost stories at Christmastime is an old one. Historically, December 25th has a close link to pre-Christian solstice festivals that regarded mid-winter as a significant time when the light dies, the nights grow longer, and (similarly to Samhain) the veil between the world of the living and the dead becomes wispy. The earth sleeps, ready to reawaken in spring. Early Christian beliefs held that souls in purgatory ‘were most active on the day before a holy day, and thus more likely to intrude into our world’ (Kirk, p7, 2020). During the dark nights of Yuletide, Christmas Eve is one of the longest nights of the year in the northern hemisphere. The tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas, particularly on Christmas Eve, dates to the Victorian period, a time of great scientific and technological advancement. Perhaps the more people came to understand