Perform an internet search for “real,” “genuine” or “true” ghosts of Christmas, Christmastide or Yuletide, and you’ll find that results are disappointing. A Christmas Carol, a novella by Charles Dickens, is the most common search result. The story’s about Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from “Christmas, bah humbug!” to one of celebration of the holiday after spectral visits from Jacob Marley and ghosts of past, present and future Christmases. There are links to the Christian Christmas spirit and a popular Christmas song, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, published and popularized by singer Andy Williams in 1963,with lyrics, “There’ll be scary ghost stories….”
Christmas Ghost Stories: English Tradition
American author Washington Irving recorded English Christmas traditions, one of which was telling ghost stories by fires. After Dickens popularized Christmas ghosts, others began writing about them. By the mid to late 1800s, these stories were popular in England and the US. Stories, touted as “true,” but were almost all fictional ones produced by writers’ imaginations.
Internet Christmas Ghost Stories
Some websites feature people’s ghostly experiences. Are they true or fiction meant to sensationalize? Four posted Christmastide encounters, using pseudonyms for writers, are:
- Mike wrote that he saw a glowing Christmas tree and a tiny immobile form, bending over presents while he was trying to fall or was sleep on Christmas Eve. He, momentarily, closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were gone.
- Angela was staying at her grandparents’ house with her family on Christmas Eve. Other family members were in bed, but she, her cousins and siblings stayed up. They retired to a room in a lower floor, shut the door and turned the lights out. While they chatted, Angela with saw a boy’s figure standing in front of the doorway that resembled her brother and told him to go to bed. He replied that he was in bed. All of those in the room saw him in bed and confirmed they were in their beds. The figure was still there. When she asked who it was, it vanished.
- Peter and his cousin were in his room when they heard people singing the Christmas song, Do You Hear What I Hear? They went to the window to see the carolers as the song grew louder, but no one was there. They went to other windows and still saw no one. The inexplicable singing faded into silence. No audio equipment was on. Later, they asked some of the neighbors if they were playing Christmas carols that night. Their answers were no.
- When Liz was seven, her family moved into another home. During mornings, she sat on the staircase’s bottom step, eating cornflakes. Sometimes she held the cornflakes’ box like a steering wheel and pretended the stairs were a bus. One day, when no one was upstairs, she sensed someone staring at her. She turned around and saw a little girl standing at the top of the stairway. Liz stared at her for a few moments before the girl walked around the corner. On Christmas Eve, Liz laid her stocking on her bedroom floor. The next morning, she saw the girl staring inside of her stocking, rise, approach her bed and crawl underneath it. Liz screamed. Her mother ran into her room and saw no girl. A few weeks later, Liz’ mother asked her to get something from the garden. She saw the girl who appeared to be angry and distressed. The apparition followed her as she walked toward the house. When Liz’ mother researched the building’s history, she discovered that a girl named Jayla Anne Misgorth lived in the house, who watched her younger brother die after he fell down the stairs.
Could these Writers’ Christmas Ghost Stories be Genuine?
The speculative science of parapsychology scientifically studies psychic phenomena without bias. Explanations of the experients’ encounters are according to parapsychological standards and theories.
Mike’s encounter was a dream or hypnagogia, which occurs when people are half-way between a sleeping and waking state. They can be conscious, but are in a dream-like state where they’re able to perceive images from the subconscious. Hypnagogia has been postulated in cases of Shadow People, universally-sighted humanoid black forms.
Angela’s experience is an example of bilocation, when a person is seen in two places at the same time, which can happen spontaneously, without the agent being aware of it, or intentionally. The person’s double isn’t always perceived by those present.
Peter and his cousin heard Christmas songs, which could have been a hallucination, hearing things without a stimulus, or clairaudience, also known as psychic hearing. It’s most likely this experience was clairaudience.
What Liz saw, was an apparition, which can be seen, heard, felt by touch, smelled, tasted and sensed and has intelligence. Residual hauntings are energy imprinted on time and space and they lack intelligence.
Are Some Christmas Ghost Stories Real?
In all of the years of studying the paranormal, I haven’t had an experience with a Christmastide ghost, nor have I spoken to anyone who has, but I’ve read about these.
It appears to me that some are residual hauntings that occur during Christmastide; however, these can appear at any time of the year, most often when the person died unexpectedly or was killed. Apparitions and doubles appear at any time. The appearance of these phenomena merely happens to appear during the Christmas season. I wrote an article about the ghosts of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the official US Christmas city, in 2008, based on successful ghost tours, Haunted Bethlehem, that I held in conjunction with the former Bethlehem Tourism Authority, BTA, that featured others’ and my paranormal experiences, research and investigations. I found no cases of Christmas ghosts.