Christmas is a time of fun, frolics and ghosts.
‘My ghostly little tale.’
That was how Charles Dickens referred to A Christmas Carol which was first published in 1843 and has since become arguably Dickens most celebrated work. It has been adapted countless time into all other media – movies, TV, comic books, audio plays, stage plays and is largely responsible for the way we celebrate Christmas today. The Christmas of the book is not so much about religion but the cold winter and the even colder heart of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Over the years the book has become to be known as a Christmas tale, which it of course is, but it is first and foremost a paranormal thriller that terrified the original audience – Dickens had written of supernatural events previously when Gabriel Grub from the Pickwick Papers is visited by goblins, but with A Christmas Carol the author brought the paranormal to the fore.
“A national benefit and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness.” William Makepeace Thackery.
Dickens has a social message behind his story, because he felt that the poor, many who had been displaced by the industrial revolution, should be provided for and treated humanly by society and by using ghosts to get his message across, he was picking up on an oral tradition of telling supernatural stories at Christmas. And whilst A Christmas Carol is the ghost story most associated with Christmas, it is worth remembering that M R James started writing his ghost stories to be told to friends on Christmas Eve, the frame story in “The Turn of the Screw” has a bunch of friends sitting around the fire on Christmas Eve And the Andy Williams song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has the line there’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago. The modern Christmas owes much to the Victorian idea of the holiday and the Victorians loved ghosts stories and each year the popular annuals would feature at least one festive ghost story.
And so remember this Christmas not all spirits come in a bottle and have a scary Christmas and a chilling new year.
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