Dickens’ scary ghost stories

Several times this week, we’ve alluded to the “scary ghost stories” in the song, ” The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  I assumed that the ghost stories reference is to A Christmas Carol, published in 1843 by Charles Dickens; however, I have since learned that Dickens published five Christmas novels and many Christmas short stories, quite a few with ghosts as major or minor characters.

Historians cite A Chrismas Carol as one of several forces that collided to energize the growing Victorian interest in the celebration of the holiday.  Clement Moore’s poem “The Night Before Christmas” was published in 1823, establishing St. Nicholas’ features.  Queen Victoria and her husband Albert displayed one of the first christmas trees, and Christmas cards were also exchanged in the mid-1800’s.

“A Christmas Carol” gives us “Scrooge,” “Bah Humbug!” and “Merry Christmas.”

The story was published just a few days before Christmas and gained instant  popularity.  Spurred by the success, Dickens wrote

  • 1844 The Chimes
  • 1845 Cricket on the Hearth
  • 1846 The Battle of Life
  • 1848 The Haunted Man

The Chimes is subtitled, A Goblin Story. The cricket is a guardian angel.  The Battle of Life does not have the supernatural.  The Haunted Man is, well, a haunted man.

There are also 17 short stories, one each year from 1850 to 1867.

So, I vote that “scary ghost stories” in the song refers to all of Dickens’ Christmas stories.  I’m going to read some of them and share them in future posts.

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