Haunted Christmas: Yuletide Tales of Ghosts and Spirits

Have You Ever Been Visited by Inexplicable Holiday Spirits?

Snowy Graveyard

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From the mystical events surrounding the birth of Jesus to the haunting traditions of Charles Dickens' supernatural visitors in "A Christmas Carol," Christmas and paranormal phenomena have had a close relationship from the very beginning. Christmas has long been associated with magic, miracles, and wonderful happenings that have no rational explanation. The following is a selection of stories strange Yuletide phenomena—including sightings of Santa Claus himself! Whether you're a believer or think they're all "Bah, humbug!" they make for an intriguing read.

Christmas Church Ghost

I was playing hide-and-seek with the other little kids from my mum's village of Satua, Western Samoa. I was quite young then, so I always followed my older cousin around. It was the middle of the night, and most of the kids were used to hiding anywhere in the dark. I wasn't used to it as I was only there for the Christmas holidays. I actually live in Australia.

Since we were all hiding in the graveyard, we were able to find our way around in the light cast by the church. We hid in the shadows and waited for the boy who was "it." We could hear him coming, so we kept quiet. The boy was pretty loud. We wondered what he was making a fuss about so we went to see.

He later told us he had walked into the church as he thought that his brother was hiding there. He saw a boy standing right at the front of the altar. He didn't know if it was his brother because the boy's back was turned. He ran up and tapped this boy on the shoulder. As soon as he did, the strange boy disappeared and our friend fainted.

We went home to tell his parents. We got back to find him still lying there, dead still. His parents took him home and we never played in the graveyard at night again. We later found out that the boy's brother had been home the whole time. He hadn't been to the church at all! What really scared us was that the boy who fainted has been ill since that night and still hasn't recovered. Whoever was in the church must have been pretty mad that we kids disturbed him. —Paulina T.

The Christmas Visitor

I had an unusual visitor on Christmas Day, 2008—and I'm pretty sure it wasn't Santa Claus passing by my house in Bloomington, Indiana. The day started in typical fashion with the opening of gifts around the Christmas tree. I served an early Christmas dinner for family and friends, and everybody departed by 5 p.m., except my sister and brother-in-law who live with me. They were asleep in a bedroom at the end of the hall but their door was open.

I went into my bedroom with my dog, Toby, and shut the door securely. Toby curled up on the foot of my bed to sleep like he always does. It was chilly so I pulled the blankets and comforter up around my head and curled up to nap for an hour.

I was just dozing off when I heard the latch on my bedroom door open. I waited several seconds for my sister or brother-in-law to say whatever they'd come to say but there was no other sound. It was almost 7 p.m., so my bedroom was pitch black. I'd left lights on in the kitchen and the bathroom and there were lots of Christmas lights in the living room, so the hallway would have been well lit. I would be able to see whoever was at the door just by lifting my head.

I pushed the blankets down and lifted my head from the pillow, but just as I would have been able to see who was in the doorway, an extremely bright light hit me right in the face. I shielded my eyes and yelled, "Turn out that @#%$ light! You're blinding me!"

The light immediately disappeared and I heard the bedroom door latch close. My bedside light is a touch lamp, so I tapped it on and looked around the bedroom. There was no one there except me and Toby. Toby jumped off the bed and went to the door without showing any signs of alarm. At first, I wasn't frightened because Toby is a Dutch shepherd and was trained to be an excellent watchdog.

Since Toby was already up, I decided to go let him outside and see what Sis or her husband needed. When I went into the hallway, I could see both of them still in bed. I took Toby to the living room to let him outside, and there was nobody there either. Ordinarily, I'm not a skittish person and strange noises or lights wouldn't alarm me but this situation was just too eerie, and the light had made my skin crawl.

Let me add that the latch on my bedroom door is broken in such a way that the inside door handle must be jiggled for the latch to pop out and engage. It makes a very distinctive sound that I'm used to listening for because if it doesn't latch, the door swings open. I am absolutely positive that the door was latched closed when I got into bed, just as I'm certain it was the door latch I heard during the incident.

When I left the bedroom, the door was latched closed again. I couldn't understand how my sister or brother-in-law could have come into my room and then returned to their own bed and crawled under the covers in the few seconds it took me to reach the hallway but I figured it had to be one of them since Toby always barks and growls at everybody and everything he doesn't immediately recognize.

When my brother-in-law got up to get ready for work that night, I asked him what he'd wanted earlier in the evening when he opened my door. He looked puzzled and said, "I never got up and I certainly never opened your door. I slept soundly the whole time I was in bed."

Okay, so I asked Sis, "Did you want something earlier this evening when you opened my door?" She also looked puzzled and told me, "I dozed off and on but I never got out of bed, and I never saw or heard anything in the hallway." (She leaves their bedroom door open at all times and she faces the hallway so she can see if anyone is coming or going in the house.)

So who was my special Christmas visitor and how did they get in and out so quickly? Like most people, the thoughts of loved ones are always close at hand during the holiday season. When I first went to lie down, I was thinking how happy I was that my small family had enjoyed a pleasant Christmas but it would have been so much better if my mother and brother had still been alive to share it with us. I would like to think it was my brother's spirit stopping by to say "Merry Christmas! I still think of you, too."

I haven't been able to debunk this strange event or find any kind of rational explanation. I'm half afraid that my heart stopped during my sleep and the light I saw was the bright light people report after near-death experiences. Leave it to me to see the Stairway to Heaven and ruin my chance at eternal paradise by saying "Turn out that #$%@ light!" I've made a mental note that if I ever see another bright light to clean up my language...just in case.
Scarlet Dragon

A Ghostly Christmas Caress

It was Christmas time of 1995 or ’96 at my aunt's house on a reservation in North Dakota. Some of my family was in the living room watching television, the kids were playing in the rooms or sleeping, and my uncle, aunt, and I were sitting at the table putting a puzzle together. My cousin, who worked at a casino, was due home around midnight or 1 a.m.

That night, as she pulled up and was walking toward the house, she looked in the window and saw me sitting at the table, my uncle sitting across from me. She also saw someone standing to the left of me and someone standing in the corner. She continued to walk in the house thinking nothing of it. When she got inside, she said her hellos, put her stuff away and came to join us at the table.

As we were sitting there talking, she looked at me and asked who was standing next to me a few minutes ago and who was in the corner. I told her no one and she said, "Yeah, there was someone standing next to you. It looked like your mom and she was playing with your hair." (I have long hair, which I used to wear down all the time.) She said this person was running her hand on my hair as a mother does to a child.

It kinda freaked me out, as I was probably only 12 or 13 at the time. My cousin swears up and down that someone was standing over me, rubbing my head and watching me put the puzzle together with my aunt and uncle, and that there was another person standing behind that person. We got around to thinking the second person was probably her mom (who'd passed away on her birthday a week before Christmas back in 1992) she'd seen.

In my family we consider our aunts and uncles to be just like our moms and dads. After thinking that it could have been her, it didn't scare me so much. Around Christmas, something strange almost always happens. We just think it's my mom visiting us. —V. Page

Santa Stuffs the Stocking

When I was nine years old, I could not get to sleep on Christmas Eve because I was excited about presents and I was wondering if my parents had anything to do with the gifts that I'd received from Santa the year before.

We lived in Texas back then. That night it was hot because the heater was on. I got thirsty. I got out of bed and cracked open my door to make sure no one was out in the living room, so I could get something to drink without being seen. (I also wanted to spy.)

When I opened the door, I saw someone bent over, and then he stood up. It was Santa Claus, dressed in the red-and-white getup! Strangely, I could see the Christmas lights from the tree shining through him. He was taking the stockings down off the mantel and placing them on the coffee table. When he started to turn around to put the next stocking on the table, I closed the door and jumped into bed.

The next morning I woke up and told my sister what I had seen. I told her where he had put the stockings. When we went into the living room, the stockings were where I said he had put them. We both turned and looked at each other and froze for a moment. From then on, I have told everyone that I believe in Santa! —Misty G.

Santa and the Elf

This happened near Seattle, Washington on Christmas Eve 1957 or '58. My mom was at the kitchen window when she yelled for my sister and me (ages around 5 and 7) to come look. There was Santa and an elf carrying a big brown bag, walking down the middle of the street. My dad went running out the door to see if Santa would come over and say, "Merry Christmas!" to us kids—but Santa, the elf and the big brown bag had vanished! —SkittySKat

Santa at the Bedroom Door

It was Christmas Eve, 1961. We were living in Boardman, Ohio. My bedroom was at the end of the house. I'd gone to sleep. I don't know what time it was—but I know it was very late—when I suddenly woke up. I was staring at my bedroom door, which was catty-corner from my bed. As the door slowly opened, I pretended to close my eyes because I didn't want my mother or father to catch me up in the middle of the night. There was a nightlight in the hallway and one behind the dresser in my room, so there was some light.

I was totally astonished, however, by who it was that opened the bedroom door. I found myself looking at a man dressed in a red suit. He had white trim around his waist, like fur, a long white beard, and was wearing a Santa hat. He had red pants and black boots. If I close my eyes, I can still see Santa standing in my door, it made such an impression on me.

He stood there and looked at me for a few seconds, then closed the door. I pulled the blankets over my head. I was so scared! Finally, I looked out but no one was there.

The next day, I asked my mother if she or my father had been out of bed the previous night. My mother said no; in fact, my sister was only 4 months old, and my mother told me she'd slept through the night for the first time since my sister was born. Neither of my parents had gotten up. Both of them were tired and they both slept. So I don't know who or what looked in my bedroom that night.

When I told my mother I'd seen Santa, she got really mad at me and told me that I had not. But I know what I saw—it was Santa Claus. I swear this story did happen and I know I wasn't dreaming. —Karrie K.