Ghostly events have been recorded during Christmastide. Stories about these events are historical, family tradition or personal encounters. Some people suggest that the veils between the worlds of the living and the dead are thin during this time of joy.
Historical Christmas Hauntings
The ghost of Anne Boleyn, second wife of English King Henry VIII, has been sighted on Christmas, gazing despondently from the bridge over the River Eden, near Hever Castle, site of Boleyn’s ancestral home. She tosses a sprig of holly into the river before vanishing.
A spectral lady has been seen walking by the roads near Brigg, Lincolnshire. It’s alleged she’s the ghost of a lonely old woman who begged for money to buy a Christmas meal, was lost in the snow and froze to death. She wears ragged clothing from the early 1800s and approaches people to ask for directions or money. According to legend, not giving her alms brings bad luck.
There’s a Gloucester, Massachusetts home, built in Colonial times, whose owners continue a tradition of leaving food and drink at the back door for their Christmas ghost. It’s believed he’s the specter of a young fisherman who was lost at sea. According to legend, one long-ago Christmas night, residents were awakened by loud knockings on the back door. When they opened it, they saw a shivering teenager standing barefoot on the stoop. They took him inside, sat him by the fireplace, covered him with a blanket and gave him warm punch while the cook was making him food. When the mistress of the house returned with dry clothing for the boy, his chair was empty; the blanket and mug, on the floor.
Three Cases of Christmas Hauntings
According to parapsychological research, these have a basis for ghostly incidents. Pseudonyms are used for confidentiality.
- Jan’s mother died three years before the incident. On Christmas evening, she was awakened by the phone ringing. She answered it and heard her mother’s voice say, “Hello there!” The line had static and cut in and out. Jan told the caller she couldn’t be her mother. The response was “Oh, come on now!” before the line cut off. Jan knew that it was her mother’s voice because it had a Norwegian accent, as her mother did.
- One of Amy’s and her mother’s Christmas traditions was to watch White Christmas. After her mother died, she avoided watching the movie. Amy was alone in the house, getting ready for bed, when she heard the sound of the song, White Christmas emanating from her mother’s room. She went to it and found it was undisturbed and the TV was cold.
- Ben’s children were creative about snooping for their presents, so he set up a web cam on his computer and aimed it at the tree and gifts. When he looked at the film, he saw a shadowy mist moving slowly around the tree, floating by the gifts and the tree’s branches moving in response. His father, who loved Christmas, died earlier that year. According to Dean and other family members, his presence was strongly felt that year.
Ghostly Christmastide Bells
Bells pealing at Christmastide have been reported in England and parts of America. In England, witnesses have heard bells ringing on Christmas night from sites of monasteries and cloisters that King Henry VIII destroyed in 1539. Evesham Abbey’s bells were thrown into the nearby river. People have heard the bell’s sounds coming from underneath the water on Christmas Eve. People in the New England and rural Southern States have heard bells’ ringings emanating from buildings that were makeshift churches and abandoned clapboard ones on Christmas Eve.
Our Family’s “Christmas” Ghost
Dad died on May 19, 1991. My grandson, Kevin, was born on March 13, 1993. Later that year, my son, James, and his family moved to North Carolina, but returned for Christmas. After dinner, James, daughter-in-law Tracey, Kevin, Gerry and I were sitting in the living room, talking, while Mother and the others were in the kitchen. Suddenly, we smelled cigar smoke. I told them that it was Dad’s. Gerry, the skeptic, said the odor came from the drapes. I didn’t tell him that they had been dry-cleaned three times since Dad’s death.
Dad wasn’t a Christmas ghost because we evidenced his presence at other times of the year. Mother smelled his cigars, pipe tobacco and an ointment he used and Kilts, their Scottish terrier, reacted. One Easter, as we were talking, my friend Wayne and some of us smelled Dad’s pipe tobacco. Wayne never met Dad and didn’t know he smoked a pipe, but he named the brand of tobacco Dad used. There were times, when I had major problems or made difficult decisions, when I’ve smelled Dad’s cigar smoke.
In addition to the season’s ghosts, there are legends and a wonderful, touching true story of feral cat Debby, who sensed she was dying, and gave the lady who took care of her a Christmas gift – her kitten. As a child, I was entranced with the legend that animals spoke on Christmas Eve. When I was older, I’d stay up until midnight to see if one of our pets would speak. I’ve written articles about Christmas legends that enhance the holiday’s joy.
Reflections on Christmas Ghosts
Parapsychologists D. Scot Rogo and Raymond Bayless wrote a book about phone calls from the dead. There are cases of ghosts who drink and eat. The Delaware Governor’s Mansion, is haunted by a wine drinking one. Respected parapsychologist Nandor Fodor investigated a case of one who ate bread and cakes. There are many documented cases of paranormal activities include hearing inexplicable sounds, like those heard during Christmastide.