Why do we tell Ghost Stories at Christmas?

11th Dec, 2023

With its centuries-old walls and storied past, Oxford Castle & Prison has long been a beacon for ghost enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Why do we tell ghost stories at Christmas?

With its centuries-old walls and storied past, Oxford Castle & Prison has long been a beacon for ghost enthusiasts and history buffs alike. From its origins in the Norman Conquest to its transformation into a prison, it has been the site of many unexplained occurrences, and maintains a secretive and sometimes unsettling atmosphere to this day…

The custom of sharing ghost stories during Christmas dates back to the Victorian era, although its roots are even older. This tradition is somewhat ironic, considering the festive and joyful spirit typically associated with Christmas. However, the long, cold winter nights provided the perfect backdrop for tales of the supernatural…

Why Christmas?

Christmas, in the Victorian imagination, was not just a time of merriment but also a period of closeness with the spirit world. The holiday’s association with the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, was seen as a time when the barrier between the living and the dead was at its thinnest. This belief made it an ideal time for ghostly apparitions.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come visits Scrooge

Charles Dickens: The Catalyst

Charles Dickens played a pivotal role in popularizing Christmas ghost stories, most notably with his classic “A Christmas Carol.” The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his spectral visitors blended the spirit of the season with the supernatural, thereby cementing the idea of ghost stories as a Christmas tradition.

The Victorian Christmas: A Haunting Affair

During the Victorian era, Christmas was a time for family gatherings around the hearth, where storytelling was a common pastime. Ghost stories, with their elements of danger and the supernatural, were a natural fit for these gatherings, offering a thrilling contrast to the warmth and safety of the home.

Decline and Revival

The tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas gradually waned in the 20th century, overshadowed by the commercialization of the holiday and changing social norms. However, there has been a recent revival of interest, with many people rediscovering the charm and excitement of these tales as a unique way to celebrate the holiday season.

Modern Interpretations

Today, the Christmas ghost story tradition lives on in various forms. Modern interpretations often combine elements of horror with the festive spirit, creating a unique genre of seasonal storytelling. Television adaptations, literary tributes, and themed events keep the tradition alive and evolving.

A Spooky Yet Heartwarming Tradition

The tradition of Christmas ghost stories is a reminder of the holiday’s rich and varied history. It offers a different way to celebrate, one that honors the past and adds depth to the modern Christmas experience. Whether through classic tales or new interpretations, these stories continue to captivate and enchant, proving that the spirit of the season can be both heartwarming and haunting.

Fancy joining in the fun? Why not join one of our Spooky Tours in the lead up to Christmas?

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