The History of Telling Ghost Stories on Christmas

“There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago”

Sound familiar? When it comes to Christmas it is most definitely the Most Wonderful Time of The Year in my mind. But Christmas isn’t just about the presents or decorations and movies, it’s also about tradition and gathering together. So where exactly do some of our better known traditions come from? Or maybe some of the traditions that have been passed down for generations but have slowly disappeared over time. One of those traditions would be telling ghost stories on Christmas. Where exactly did the tradition come from? That’s what were about to find out!

So where exactly did the origins of telling ghost stories at this time of the year start? Well the concept actually began long before Christmas was what we know and celebrate today. It actually dates back to the ancient Pagan ritual of Yule or the Winter Solstice. Yule celebrated not only the darkest day of the year, but it celebrated the start of rebirth. I do plan on making a whole other post specifically about Yule but that was just a brief description to help my explanation!

Photo by cottonbro on

Anyways, with the darkest day of the year, many believed (like many do now a days with Halloween) that the veil between the living and the dead was thin; thus making it easier for the dead to travel across. But it was also the start of people reflecting on the year. In a time of religious celebration, many remembered those who were no longer when them. This in turn would lead to stories being told. Especially during times pre-dating the Victorian Era of England or even so far back as Medieval times long ago where storytelling was a heavy form of entertainment when there wasn’t much else to do in the dark of night. Tales were spun of ghost lore but also of loved ones passed on.

A perfect example of these ghostly Christmas tales that have become a staple of the holiday season since 1843, is Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge is haunted by his former business partner and then greeted by three additional ghosts in order to make him understand the true meaning of not only Christmas, but life in general. This book brought the true meaning of Christmas back into the world. What was once a unimportant holiday soon became a lively celebration once again and with that came the old tradition of sharing ghost tales.

Side Note: For those of you that don’t know, I LOVE A Christmas Carol and we literally would not have the same views of Christmas that we do today had it not been for this story. I HIGHLY recommend watching The Man Who Invented Christmas on Amazon Prime because it really highlights Dickens life and how he truly brought the spirit of Christmas back to the world. Such a nice feel-good watch.

ANYWAYS, throughout history ghost stories and legends have been passed down and shared through generations. Overtime it would seem that Christmas has become more of a time to focus on the light rather than the dark, but traditions never truly fully fade out. Every year without fail my family will still find ourselves sharing at least one ghostly tale (or two) while we pass around Christmas dessert. The idea of sharing these tales during such a festive time of year truly fascinates me and honestly I love it! Bring back old traditions and enjoy the new. Happy Holidays everyone!


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