Well, the Christmas songs have begun - I'm sure you've noticed. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I hopped in the car to head to work, anticipating one more 70's Saturday before the Christmas music started. Alas, I had already enjoyed the last 70's Saturday for 2012. The holiday tunes were already in full swing.
One of the songs that is played every year is 'It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year'. There several versions, to be sure, but the one that is probably most familiar is by Andy Williams.
There is a line in the song about 'scary ghost stories' and that always seemed curious to me. Why would you tell ghost stories at Christmas? Ghost stories are for camp outs and sleepovers. What is that line doing in the song? And then today, I remembered something.
Perhaps the most well-known of Christmas stories is 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens. And what is that tale if not a ghost story? And I remembered more. Last year I bought a copy of 'A Christmas Carol' and here is the opening paragraph from the Introduction:
"Between 1843 and 1848 Dickens wrote five novellas or long short stories that he published at Christmastime (A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain). The stories are not merely set at Christmas or the New Year's holiday but contain themes the author felt were particularly appropriate to the season. While Christmas celebrations predate Dickens and there existed before him a tradition of telling ghost-tales at Christmas and the turn of the year, Dickens breathed a new and unique vigor into these celebrations and traditions that carry forward to this day. He wrote other ghost stories, almost all of which are spoofs or farces, but in his "Christmas books" allowed supernatural elements a power to awaken characters and readers from their social misanthropy."
It seems strange to me that ghost stories were traditional at Christmas, but apparently so. I can't say that I miss it, though I like 'A Christmas Carol' very much.
One more note about the song - it was written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle and was recorded by Williams that same year. You can hear it right now if you want.