Christmas is Coming, Are The Christmas Ghosts A-stirring?
When we think of the Christmas holiday season, we think of warm fires, happy families, presents galore and food that fills our bellies. We don't necessarily think about the presence of ghosts, but guess what? Ghosts are still around, some are even more active on Christmas itself.
I'm not talking about the three ghosts in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" either. For centuries, Christmas has been celebrated as a joyful and loving time to gather with family, so why would there be tales of ghosts on Christmas Eve? In fact, a Victorian England tradition of Christmas was indeed to gather around a fire and to tell ghost stories. Think of the Christmas song "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and the verse that says, "there'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glorious Christmases of long long ago..."
The tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas probably originated with the ancient Celts, who celebrated Christmas as something else entirely...the celebration of the Winter Solstice or what many now call "Yule". It was believed by the ancient Celts that on certain nights of the year the dead could come through the veil between the worlds to visit their loved ones. Is it possible that the Winter Solstice (being the longest night of the year) was one of these spiritual nights to the ancient Celts? It is a very likely possibility, and that is probably how the Victorian England tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas began.
But is there truth to the old Christmas ghosts stories? Let's see just how spooky the Christmas holiday season can really be...
The White Lady of Cornwall
In England, a recurring haunting on the night of the Winter Solstice makes itself known on a yearly basis. This Christmas ghost is known as the "White Lady of Cornwall". As I've mentioned, she doesn't haunt the site on Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day, but on the day and/or night of the Winter Solstice (the 21st/22nd of December).
The vision of a White Lady ghost haunts the Lower Boscaswell village of Cornwall. The lady is said to be beautiful, as white as a ghost (no wonder) and she has been said to hold a blood red rose between her lips. The White Lady ghost of Cornwall appears briefly and then walks "into the fogou", according to local legend and eyewitnesses. The superstition surrounding the White Lady ghost of Cornwall is that if one sees her, misfortune will soon follow. Who is this Christmas ghost of Cornwall? No one has quite figured that out, though she has been around for centuries so the locals say...
The Ghost of Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn was suspected to have been a witch and evil woman by Henry VIII. She was also his second wife and a dedicated wife and Queen of England. Unfortunately, despite Anne's dedication to her husband and country's success and well-being, King Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn beheaded after trying her for witchcraft and betrayal (he claimed she had cheated on him with her relative among other horrible accusations).
Anne Boleyn's ghost is said to haunt the Tower of London and a few other famous places in England, but Anne Boleyn's Christmas ghost is said to haunt Hever Castle. Hever Castle was Anne Boleyn's childhood home, and probably the place where she was the most happiest in her life. It is here that people have said to see the Christmas ghost of Anne Boleyn walking and talking under a large oak tree on the property. Her Christmas ghost is then said to walk across the bridge and toss a sprig of holly into the water.
Does Anne Boylen's ghost haunt Hever Castle on Christmas because that is where her most joyful Christmas memories flourished? It's quite possible...anything is possible on Christmas Eve.
Grandpa Came to Visit...and More Ghostly Family Members
Many of the American Christmas Ghost stories aren't of White Lady ghosts haunting bridges and cottages or of beheaded Queens of England, American Christmas ghosts tend to be stories of passed loved ones who have come to visit their family on the most important family night of the year...Christmas.
There is one story of a woman who was pregnant in the 1970's, and upon moving into her new home and setting up the Christmas tree with her husband noticed her mother sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the family room. The Christmas ghost of the woman's mother just sat there, rocking and smiling at the two of them. To make sure she wasn't seeing things or losing her mind, she mentioned the specter to her husband...and her husband confirmed that he was seeing the exact same site of the Christmas ghost of her mother in the rocking chair.
Other haunting stories of Christmas ghosts of deceased children visiting their families on Christmas Eve and standing by the Christmas tree abound throughout the United States. Are these Christmas ghosts of children simply waiting to share the Christmas joy with their family once again? Perhaps they're waiting to open up their presents...Christmas presents which they'll never open once again.
Pictures have been taken at Christmas time by millions of families throughout the United States, some turning out to show spooky mists and figures of what appear to be grandparents or other deceased loved ones.
It is my belief that sometimes our loved ones can return to visit us...and perhaps the best night to do this is on Christmas Eve. Should we be afraid of Christmas ghosts or simply welcome them to join us in our merriments on Christmas?
© 2011 Nicole Canfield