The Ghosts of Christmas

Boo! Telling ghost stories on Christmas was a tradition for hundreds of years. ( Marley’s ghost surprises Ebenezer Scrooge in an illustration from the first edition of the classic tale-Illustrator: John Leech)

Dear Reader:

The tradition of Christmas ghost stories dates much farther back than Charles Dickens’ 1863 A Christmas Carol. In fact ancient celebrations from the Winter Solstice started it all!

When the nights grew long and the days shorter storytelling around a fire became the nightly entertainment. Instinctively people gathered together to remember people and places no longer with them.

Before Dickens wrote his Carol –the tradition of Christmas was fading. For most people it was still a workday… the Industrial Revolution meant fewer days off for everyone and Christmas Day was no exception.

The decline of the holiday came courtesy of Oliver Cromwell-a Puritan who was on a mission to cleanse the nation of its decadent excesses.On top of the list was Christmas and ” all its festive trappings.” ( Cromwell famously banned Christmas carols.) Bah Humbug!

But with A Christmas Carol occurring around the same time as the invention of the commercial Christmas card-a resurgence for a commercial holiday , including ghost stories that a British Christmas is known for now… grew popular rapidly!

Think about it! The ghost tradition has even made it into lyrics of Christmas classics like ” It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” ( 1963)

…”There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”

Through modern eyes Halloween might be a more appropriate holiday for ghosts, however Christmas does make sense. As Dickens wrote -the ghosts of Christmas are really the past, present, and future swirling around us in the dead of winter reminding us to keep the Christmas SPIRIT alive every day of the year!

So until tomorrow… Christmas jars filled with the spirit of Christmas are popular now-with suggestions on how to keep Christmas alive everyday!

A Christmas Spirit Jar
Doodle’s beautiful Christmas Amaryllis

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh…

… because I got Joan Turner’s last watercolor of Mickey-completed the day before he passed. But next year Sophie will grace the new artwork!

What a lucky dog you were Mickey to live such a long happy life with your mother and siblings! You lasted the longest!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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