Self Expression Magazine

Scary Ghost Stories and Tales of the Glories of Christmases Long, Long Ago…

Posted on the 21 December 2013 by Bunnysunday @missbunnysunday


Halloween may have usurped the title of “Spookiest Holiday” but I assure you, Christmas has just as much to offer in the way of ghosts and ghouls. And by “Christmas” I mean whatever version of whatever Winter Solstice-adjacent holiday you celebrate (there’s one in almost every culture… it’s one of those weird “collective unconscious” things.)

Nobody loves a ghost story more than me, so the darker elements of Christmas have always been attractive. I enjoy a Mariah-infused carol as much as the next person, but it’s the Dickensian ghosts with their rattling chains who really make me smile. So, from the bottom of my dark heart to the warm cockles of yours, here’s a list of ghostly Yuletide facts:

Ghost Lore

Ghost stories used to be referred to as “Winter Tales”  because people would pass the long, dark winter nights gathered around a fire sharing stories about the supernatural. This was especially popular during the Christmas season when family and friends visited. Kind of like how we gather in front of computer screens and share Youtube videos today.

Speaking of which, people gathered during December because the long nights and barren landscape were thought to contain threats, sickness, death and the supernatural. People banded together for warmth and strength of numbers. Plus, a boisterous celebration would keep evil spirits away.

Like Halloween, the Winter Solstice is considered a time when the veil is thin and spirits can be contacted. This has to do with December having the longest nights of the year. Charms, divination, superstitions and spirit communication were all part of Victorian Christmas customs.

Witchy Plants

Many traditional decorations like holly, ivy, evergreen boughs and mistletoe were used to ward off ghosts, witches and bad luck.

Evergreens are symbolic of everlasting life and were thought to promote health.

Holly was used as protection against witches and lightning.

Mistletoe was used in love divination and thought to promote fertility. That’s why we kiss under mistletoe today. Girls used to tuck it into their corsets and pillowcases in order to have prophetic dreams about their husbands. Because all teenage girls are secretly witches.

It’s bad luck to bring ivy inside but good luck to have it growing up the exterior of a house.

The decorating of evergreen trees was a Pagan practice to ward off evil by leaving offerings to deities and their animal counterparts. Trees were often decorated with fruit, seeds and other ornaments that would be eaten by animals. This is also where winter traditions like hanging bird feeders and scattering seeds come from.

Spooky Superstitions

Candles and Yule logs should be kept burning all night both for luck in the New Year and to keep evil spirits away.

The windows and doors of a home should be opened wide on Christmas Eve to let out any spirits or bad luck that might be trapped inside.

Cats are given the gift of speech at midnight on Christmas Day but only for an hour. If you happen to hear them, a terrible fate will befall you.

People born on Christmas Day will never see a ghost and are protected from drowning.

Alternatively, people born on Christmas day are prone to ghost sightings and may astral project on Christmas Eve…

Pagan Practices

Many of our Christmas traditions come from the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Held close to the Winter Solstice, it honoured the agricultural god, Saturn. The  festival celebrated light and the promise of a fertile spring at the darkest time of the year. Obviously, many traditions involving candles, strings of lights, star symbols and gold orb decorations are linked to this festival.

Saturnalia festivals may or may not have involved human sacrifices, depending on which historian you talk to…

Saturnalia was a great time for women. They were allowed to be more liberal, sexual and free during Saturnalia festivities.

Yuletide Demons

Krampus is a demonic figure from German mythology who resembles the Devil and hits bad children with sticks… and sometimes kidnaps them… and sometimes eats them.

Krampus is often associated with the Pagan god, Pan, and is sometimes depicted in pursuit of sexy ladies… there’s some kind of tie to myths about witches consorting with Satan here, right?

I told you it was witchy…

Happy Holidays!




Further Reading?

Christmas Superstitions



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