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Haunted Holidays

Grab an eggnog, gather ’round the fireplace and get ready for tales of ghostly hauntings, eerie happenings, and other strange occurrences from times past! Holiday folklore traditions from around the United States are kept alive in these expert retellings by master storyteller S. E. Schlosser. From Hanukkah and Christmas to Three Kings Day and New Year’s, these spooky stories will have you looking over your shoulder again and again.

No Room: A Christmas Legend

No Room

    Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, on the night before Christmas, a little child was wandering all alone through the streets of a great city. There were many people on the street, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, and even gray-haired grandfathers and grandmothers, all of whom were hurrying home with bundles of presents for each other and for their little ones. Fine carriages rolled by, express wagons rattled past, even old carts were pressed into service, and all things seemed in a hurry and glad with expectation of the coming Christmas morning

    The Street of the Jewel

    The Street of the Jewel

      What this street was called, in very old times, Señor, no one knows: because the dreadful thing that gave to it the name of the Street of the Jewel happened on a long ago Christmas Eve.

      I'm All Right

      I’m All Right

        We knew right from the start that Johnny was going to be a soldier. Even as a child, all his concentration was on the military. So we weren’t surprised when he joined the Marines right out of high school…

        Wait Until Emmet comes

        Wait Until Emmett Comes

          A preacher was riding to one of the churches on his circuit when darkness fell. It was about to storm, and the only house nearby was an old mansion which was reputed to be haunted. The preacher clutched his Bible and said: “The Lawd will take care o’ me”…

          The Brothers' Revenge

          The Brothers’ Revenge

            The blizzard was raging fiercely around them as the brothers stumbled down the long road. they were miles from any farm, and knew they had to seek shelter or freeze to death. So it was with gratitude that the two brothers spotted a saloon and pushed their way through the door.

            Thanksgiving Stories

              In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The thanksgiving observance at Plymouth was prompted by a good harvest. Initially, the Plymouth colony did not have enough food to feed the colonists, but the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the settlers by providing seeds and teaching them to fish.

              Christmas Stories

                December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For more than two thousand years, people have been observing Christmas Day with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, sharing meals with family and friends and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

                Holiday Ghost Stories

                  Come celebrate the spooky side of the holidays.  Ghosts, Saint Nicholas, Der Belznickel and other characters haunt these stories that take place around the holidays.  We’ve also included a couple of ghost stories from the African-American tradition for folks to read during Kwanzaa!   Christmas Stories Haunted ChristmasThe soft thud of following footsteps echoed behind him as he hurried through the snowflakes toward home.  They kept pace with him, quickening when he quickened and slowing when… Read More »Holiday Ghost Stories

                  Hanukkah Stories

                    Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar. It is celebrated for eight days and nights. In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication.” The holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.

                    Kwanzaa Stories

                      Kwanzaa is a seven day festival which celebrates the African American culture and history. It is a time of community gathering and reflection. Kwanzaa begins on December 26th, the day after Christmas, and continues until New Years Day, January 1st.

                      New Years Stories

                      New Years Day stories

                        New Year’s Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar. Since most countries use the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day is a truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the New Year starts.

                        Saint Nicholas Day

                          December 6 is the Feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop from the fourth century. He is the model for our modern-day Santa Claus, because Saint Nicholas’s generosity was legendary. The night before Saint Nicholas Day, children place their shoes in a prominent location– by a fireplace, or outside their bedroom door. The next morning–usually very early–the children find their shoes filled with little presents from the great saint.

                          The Devil's Christmas Gift

                          The Devil’s Christmas Gift

                            Away down South, an old custom dictates that if someone comes up to you on Christmas Day and says “Christmas gift” before y’all do, why y’all are obliged to give that person a present. Mind you, the custom does not say what sort of present y’all should give! But those of us who hail from the South consider ourselves to be gentlefolk. The gifts given and received in this manner are good enough to keep the custom alive and well…

                            Davy Crockett and the Frozen Dawn

                              One winter, it was so cold that the dawn froze solid. The sun got caught between two ice blocks, and the earth iced up so much that it couldn’t turn. The first rays of sunlight froze halfway over the mountain tops. They looked like yellow icicles dripping towards the ground.

                              Cow's Head

                              Cow’s Head

                                Oksana lived in a small house on the edge of town with her father, her stepmother and her stepsister. Oksana’s stepmother disliked Oksana, favoring her true daughter, Olena.
                                Soon after her father’s remarriage, Oksana found that all the housework fell to her while Olena idled her days away

                                Rising of Gouverneur Morris

                                The Rising of Gouverneur Morris

                                  Gouverneur Morris, American minister to the court of Louis XVI, was considerably enriched, at the close of the reign of terror, by plate, jewels, furniture, paintings, coaches, and so on, left in his charge by members of the French nobility, that they might not be confiscated in the sack of the city.

                                  Wendigo

                                  Wendigo

                                    The storm lasted so long that they thought they would starve. Finally, when the wind and swirling snow had died away to just a memory, the father, who was a brave warrior, ventured outside. The next storm was already on the horizon, but if food was not found soon, the family would starve.

                                    Der Belznickel

                                    Der Belznickel

                                      My sisters and my baby brother danced about the house, whispering to each other excitedly about the coming of der Belznickel on that snowy December 5th evening, the day before the Feast of Saint Nicholas. According to the stories, the good Saint Nicholas chains up the Devil on the eve of his Birthday – December 6th — and makes him visit all of the children in the village to see if they have been behaving themselves and deserved the attention of Kirstkindel.

                                      A Baker's Dozen

                                      A Baker’s Dozen

                                        Back in the old days, I had a successful bake-shop in Albany. I had a good business, a plump wife, and a big family. I was a happy man. But trouble came to my shop one year in the guise of an ugly old woman. She entered my shop a few minutes before closing and said: “I wish to have a dozen cookies.” She pointed to my special Saint Nicholas cookies that were sitting out on a tray. So I counted out twelve cookies for her…

                                        Haunted Christmas

                                        Haunted Christmas

                                          The soft thud of following footsteps echoed behind him as he hurried through the snowflakes toward home. They kept pace with him, quickening when he quickened and slowing when he slowed. It was creepy. His flesh crawled at the sound and he sped up, cursing himself for walking home alone from the midnight Christmas Mass.

                                          A Gift from St. Nicholas

                                          A Gift from Saint Nicholas

                                            Claas Schlaschenschlinger was a wealthy cobbler living on New Street in New Amsterdam. He was a contented bachelor who could afford eight – eight mind you! – pairs of breeches and he had a little side business selling geese. He cut quite a figure in New Amsterdam society, and was happy being single, until he met the fair Anitje! She was as pretty as a picture, and Claas fell head over heels for her. He was not her only suitor, by any means. The local burgomaster was also courting the fair Anitje. But the burgomaster was a stingy, hard man, and in the end, Anitje gave her heart and hand to Claas…

                                            Eavesdropper

                                            Eavesdropper

                                              There is an old tale which claims that at midnight, on Christmas Eve, the cattle will kneel in the barn and speak with one another. Once an old Maryland man decided to test the tale by hiding in the barn at midnight to listen. So he climbed a rope to the window in the hayloft. He lay down on the rough gray boards, covered himself with hay and waited…

                                              Saint Nicholas and the Children

                                              St. Nicholas and the Children

                                                Two little children lived with their old grandmother in a remote place in the Canadian forest. They were twin children—a boy and a girl, Pierre and Estelle by name—and except for their dress it was not easy to tell them apart. Their father and mother had died in the springtime, and in the summer, they had left their old home because of its many sad memories and had gone to live with their old grandmother in a new home elsewhere.

                                                Ghosts of Red Creek

                                                The Ghosts of Red Creek

                                                  A small party of gentlemen on the day before a crisp, cold Christmas, started from Gulfport in a large four-wheeled wagon for a thirty-mile drive into the wilderness of pine and a week’s sport after the deer. The tract of pine forest extended for miles with only a few habitations scattered through it. Red Creek drained this region into the Pascagoula River to the eastward.

                                                  Legend of Babouschka

                                                  The Legend of Babouscka

                                                    It was the night the dear Christ-Child came to Bethlehem. In a country far away from Him, an old, old woman named Babouscka sat in her snug little house by her warm fire. The wind was drifting the snow outside and howling down the chimney, but it only made Babouscka’s fire burn more brightly.

                                                    Racing a ghost

                                                    Racing a Ghost

                                                      It was early on Christmas morning when John Reilly wheeled away from a picturesque little village where he had passed the previous night, to continue his cycling tour through eastern Pennsylvania. To-day his intention was to stop at Valley Forge, and then to ride on up the Schuylkill Valley, visiting in turn the many points of historical interest that lay along his route.

                                                      The First Christmas Tree

                                                      The First Christmas Tree

                                                        At the time when the Christ Child was born all the people, the animals, and the trees, and plants were very happy. The Child was born to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. People came daily to see the little One, and they always brought gifts with them.

                                                        The Ice King

                                                        The Ice King

                                                          Once upon a time there was a village built on the bank of a wide river. During the spring, summer, and autumn the people were very happy. There was plenty of fuel and game in the deep woods; the river afforded excellent fish. But the Passamaquoddy dreaded the months when the Ice King reigned.

                                                          The Snow Maiden

                                                          The Snow Maiden

                                                            Once upon a time there lived a peasant named Ivan and his wife, Marie. They were very sad because they had no children. One cold winter day the peasant and his wife sat near a window in their cottage and watched the village children playing in the snow. The little ones were busily at work making a beautiful snow maiden.