Friday 2 December 2011

The darker side of Christmas

Because there is a darker, ghoulish, creepy side to Christmas. Among the many books I am reading at the moment, I have this one, Christmas Curiosities, last year's Christmas present from my brother. We often forget that Christmas in many ways was a "dark" holiday, that was much closer to my beloved Halloween. Pagan beliefs and traditions are still deeply rooted in it , and with it supernatural, monsters, ghosts, etc. Most of Western Christmas imagery is rooted in Nordic legends. In Victorian times, Christmas was the season of ghost stories (A Christmas Carol belongs to this tradition). In Québec, we have the legend of the Chasse-Galerie, a cautionary Christmas tale that has very sinister tones.

But even the genuinely Christian side of Christmas is not devoid of a sinister tradition: who does not shiver thinking about the Massacre of the Innocents? And there is also The Legend of Saint Nicholas, which I blogged about before and which I might rewrite here, the same way I did with The Legend of Jack O'Lantern.  The legend of the evil butcher was maybe at the origin of the Père Fouettard, Krampus and other sinister Christmas bogeymen. So I am reading this book with fascination. I love to go back to the primitive roots of Christmas, to its darkness that makes us appreciate its lights even more.


PJ said...

Je regrette un peu de ne pas l'avoir feuilleté plus avant de le faire emballer. Dès que je l'ai vu à la librairie, je savais que j'avais trouvé ton cadeau.

The Gill-Man said...

Ahhhh...we're on a wavelength here! I have plans for a blog series that explores some of these very topics (hopefully, I'll actually find time to write them up). Definitely need to get a copy of this book!

suzanne said...

I'll have to track down that book! I've always been drawn to Christmas tales with a darker side.

Guillaume said...

@PJ-Il y a pleins de trésors comme ça si on se donne la peine de chercher dans les librairies.
@The Gill-Man-Great minds think alike! I will blog more about the dark side of Christmas.
@Halloween Spirit-In a way, pretty much all Christmas tales have a darker side, including the Nativity Story.