December 20, 2012

Ghosts and spirits a like appear everywhere in Christmas legends. The telling of ghost stories at Christmas belongs to one old English tradition, which is shown in one of the most famous Christmas stories of all: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Even though readers today see A Christmas Carol as a story of a miserly old man rediscovering the meaning of Christmas, Dickens also intended readers to read it as a ghost story. The full title of the story actually reads as A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas! The preface of the book continues: “I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book to raise the Ghost of an Idea which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”

Dickens even went so far as to recommend reading the book out loud, in a cold room by candlelight. Dickens loved ghost stories so much he wrote several more over the years, including a couple more Christmas ghost stories called, “The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton,” “The Haunted Man,” “The Haunted House,” and “A Christmas Tree.”

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