What makes a group fire the perfect setting for ghost stories? It may be Halloween (or any fall holiday party for that matter) where guests gather around the fireplace. Everyone gets cozy and warm and waits for the storyteller to spin tales of fear and terror. If it’s summertime, the beach bonfire or campground fire pit is where these stories begin. The warmth from the fire is what causes people to gather, but time after time the setting will evoke someone to start bringing up stories of ghouls and ghosts. I think in general people are fascinated by tales of mystery. This probably goes all the way back to the days of the cavemen. They probably tried in those early days to tell stories around the fire. (That’s assuming they all understood what was being grunted of course.) During the middle ages, elders gathered their families by firesides and told tales of heroism and magic, capturing the imaginations of everyone who listened. If we take a look at holidays of the Victorian era, its easy to see how telling ghost stories around the fireplace was an important tradition. This is even reflected in the classic Christmas song “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”. The lyrics are “There’ll be scary ghost stories, and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”. It almost always happened at the Christmas Eve celebration. People would gather and try to outdo each other with the scariest tale. Charles Dickens tale “A Christmas Carol” is now probably the most famous of those wintertime ghost stories. Fortunately the summertime fireside ghost story time is alive and doing well. But unfortunately it seems the tradition of Christmas ghost story telling by the fireside has dwindled during the last century. Maybe because not everyone has fireplaces in their homes anymore. Or maybe everyone is too wrapped up in the stress of gift giving. I think this Christmas Eve I will try to bring the tradition back. After all what better way to enjoy chestnuts roasting by the open fire.