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Ghosts and Creatures of Christmas Past

It is required of every man,” Charles Dickens‘ classic tale goes, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.”  Christmas is a time of family, generosity, forgiveness, and all virtues that bring people together.  But it is also a time the spirits and creatures of the other side come about as they do in Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” but their motivations are not always as clear.

Among the superstitions normally attributed to the season, a great number of ghosts and cryptids pop up around the days just before and after the 25th of December.  There’s an ancient superstition that directs farmers to stay away from their barns the night before Christmas so they will not prevent the animals from being granted the temporary power of speech.  Of course this is normally attributed as a traditional superstition, but many believe the ancient tradition to this day.  And, it is said, to interrupt the conversations or attempt to overhear them is bad luck.  Even pets such as dogs and cats are suspected to be able to talk in the waning hours of the night, although it is said the creatures never speak to or in the presence of human ears.  This is largely considered more a tradition and superstition than a paranormal phenomenon.

Of course the tradition of seeing yuletide spirits (not just in eggnog) has been around for quite some time.  One account is the ghost one woman in Australia saw standing over her after she went to bed one night in a friend’s house.  When she awoke suddenly in the middle of the night she saw standing beside her bed a mysterious ethereal figure standing over her bed.  And as she sat up to get a better look at the figure, she saw in its hands a large pillow it was holding as though waiting to smother her.  The apparition soon disappeared, however, when she jumped up and ran from the room.  Needless to say it was the last time she ever stayed in her friend’s house.

Even Bigfoot has been sighted on the holidays.  The creepy cryptid was sighted in 2007 wandering outside a cabin as a newlywed couple made their escape from the chaotic family scene that year in favor of the secluded Michigan wilderness.  As they were sleeping that night they suddenly heard wood cracking in the woods distant from them.  Investigating through a pair of binoculars in the moonlight, they saw a massive hairy figure wandering through the woods.  In spite of, or perhaps because of their experience, the couple reported that the vacation was one they would remember for quite some time.

In Haworth Yorkshire, the ghost of Emily of the Bronte sisters, is said to haunt the grounds in the days just before and after Christmas, her head bowed as she slowly walks through the area as though deep in thought.  It’s said she is generally seen by at least one person per year around this time.  There’s no shortage of Christmas legends and ghosts related to the season.

Perhaps they are merely a piece of undigested bread or cheese as Scrooge points out, but the lessons they bring with them about ourselves are no less valuable than those bestowed upon Dickens’ classic character.