The Tradition of Holiday Ghost Stories

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The popular Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmastime has roots all the way back to the Roman festival of Sol Invictus, or “the unconquered sun,” where it was believed that on the longest night of the year, spirits of the dead could walk the Earth to finish unsettled business.

Although mostly forgotten today, there are still remnants of this tradition in many staples of the season, including Charles Dickens’ own “ghostly little tale,” A Christmas Carol, and the Andy Williams song “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” which prominently features the line, “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”

Sol Invictus