Feeling a little "Bah Humbug"? Does the sometimes-oppressive cheerfulness of this season make you long for the spookier days of Halloween? Well, who says the holiday season can’t be spooky??
As the nights grow longer and colder, it just makes sense to embrace the spookier side of things. This time of year has long been seen as a time for fighting the literal darkness outside as the days grow shorter by telling each other stories. I know that I can get caught up in the frantic hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and you might relate! Why not slow things down a bit? Maybe it doesn’t get quite cold enough in Texas to curl up by a fire, but the idea of sitting in the soft glow of my string lights, sipping something hot, and reading some ghost stories sounds great to me. It would be even better if my family took turns reading or telling stories to each other. If you agree, here are some storytelling traditions to consider!
Winter Solstice Traditions
The longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice, opens a new window, has long been known as a night for storytelling, spooky and otherwise. The solstice is the day when the least sunlight reaches the northern hemisphere. Many indigenous people from North America, opens a new window waited to tell stories until this time of year, for practical and entertainment purposes. The cold and the dark keep everyone stuck inside and make it a perfect time for storytelling. This is a time to honor traditions, respect hibernating animals, and hold ceremonies.
Did you know that it was a tradition in Victorian England to tell spooky stories on Christmas Eve? There was a long history of this practice even before Victorian times, but authors like Charles Dickens (you know, The Man Who Invented Christmas, opens a new window, author of A Christmas Carol, opens a new window) and M.R. James popularized and published ghost stories unrelated to the holidays during the coldest, darkest, and perhaps, spookiest, time of the year.
Many of M.R. James, opens a new window and Charles Dickens', opens a new window works, including A Christmas Carol, are available for unlimited check out through Overdrive. Some of the many movie adaptations of A Christmas Carol, including The Muppet Christmas Carol, opens a new window and Barbie in a Christmas Carol, opens a new window, are available for check out too.
There are stories about mythical creatures in many cultures told to children. These stories are usually meant to try to convince children to behave. Many are terrifying, opens a new window: Baba Yaga, La Llorona, El Cuco, to name a few.
My guess is that you know about Santa Claus. Santa is part of a relatively nice story, unless you've read this Neil Gaiman poem, opens a new window, he's just a jolly old man who brings kids presents. But he is always watching you! And if you don't behave he's going to put you on the naughty list!
He's become pretty popular in recent years, but maybe you don't know about Krampus, a creature from Germany and Austria often associated with Santa Claus or St. Nicholas. A creature that looks like a hooved demon, Krampus actually originated long before Christmas was an established holiday and was originally from pagan and Norse traditions. Men dress as Krampus and parade around town to ward off bad spirits. These days Krampus joins St. Nicholas on December 5th and punishes the wicked. Krampus will spank, torture, or even eat his victims, naughty children. If you like the idea of mythical creatures doling out punishment, learn more about Krampus by checking these out!
Want to hear HCPL staff tell some spooky stories and follow along in the holiday spooky storytelling traditions? Check out the Using Our Library Voices podcast episode for December, opens a new window!
For ghost story collections, check out the titles below!
Do you prefer to watch scary stories instead of reading them? Never fear! Pun intended! There are plenty of horror movies that take place around the holidays, some will be sure to make you laugh as well as give you the creeps.