Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Ghost Stories

In the nineteenth century, it was traditional to tell ghost stories around the fire on Christmas Eve. Of course, I have a feeling that anytime there were a group of people gathered around the fire in the nineteenth century there was a telling of ghost stories- Christmas Eve or not. Let's ignore that for a moment though and think about bringing the tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve back to life. Charles Dicken's "Christmas Carol" doesn't seem so odd now does it? He was just another bloke telling another ghost story.

In 1891, Jerome K. Jerome edited an anthology of ghost stories for Christmas Eve called "Told After Supper." Fortunately for us, we can read it for free at Project Gutenberg.

In his introduction, Jerome writes:
Christmas Eve is the ghosts' great gala night. On Christmas Eve they hold their annual fete. On Christmas Eve everybody in Ghostland who IS anybody—or rather, speaking of ghosts, one should say, I suppose, every nobody who IS any nobody—comes out to show himself or herself, to see and to be seen, to promenade about and display their winding-sheets and grave-clothes to each other, to criticise one another's style, and sneer at one another's complexion.

What follows the humorous introduction is the retelling of 6 short ghostly stories. In our modern world of everyday horror these stories probably won't scare you very much. Still, light a few candles if you don't have a fireplace and gather the family for the annual telling of ghost stories. Read a few of Jerome's if you don't have any of your own. I suspect you do.

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