A Tale for a Winter’s Night

For the Victorian English, ghost stories at Christmas were just as common as Mariah Carey’s Christmas songs are on the radio now.

Jenna Goldsmith

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Victorian Christmas Card

Imagine: It’s a cold night in December, the snow is falling, the wind is howling. But you and your family and friends are warm and cozy, sitting by the roaring fire. There’s delicious food, warm drinks, and a general jolly spirit throughout. Then the stories begin…

“You will be haunted,” resumed the Ghost, “by Three Spirits.”

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Marley’s Ghost image from A Christmas Carol

Hands down, the most popular Christmas story — besides the Nativity story — is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. First published in 1843, the 6000 copies sold out in a matter of days. By the end of the following year, thirteen editions had been released. Today, a first edition copy can be found online selling for upwards of $25k.

We have Charles Dickens to thank for some of the ways we celebrate Christmas now. A combination of Oliver Cromwell’s puritanical change of religious traditions — he even tried to ban Christmas carols — and the Industrial Revolution…

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