7 Spine-Tingling Tales of Christmas Ghosts

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Traditionally, Christmas in England was a time for scaring the bejesus out of little children by telling ghost stories around the fire. Charles Dickens led the way with his famous ghost story A Christmas Carol, but what of the "real" ghosts said to haunt the land at Christmas time? Below are seven spine-tingling and seasonal stories of Christmas ghosts.

1. THE HAUNTED CHRISTMAS FEAST AT ALCATRAZ

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The island of Alcatraz, off the coast of San Francisco, has a long and spooky history. In its earlier days, Native Americans allegedly used to banish miscreants to the island as punishment, where they were reportedly plagued by the local spirits. Alcatraz, of course, became a notorious federal prison in 1934, housing criminals such as Al Capone before it was shut down in 1963. Today, visitors to the island report hearing screams, the clanging of metal doors, and the sound of voices within the walls. One of the more famous tales associated with the island supposedly occurred in the 1940s, when warden James Johnston held a Christmas Day party at his residence for the staff at the prison. The good cheer is said to have been brought to a swift halt when an apparition sporting mutton-chop whiskers and a gray suit appeared. The temperature in the room plummeted and the fire blew out, before returning to normal when the spirit disappeared about a minute later. The rattled guards were too scared to stay in the residence, and the rest of the Christmas celebration ended abruptly.

2. THE GHOSTLY QUEEN RETURNING HOME AT HEVER CASTLE

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Anne Boleyn is notorious as the second of King Henry VIII’s ill-fated wives. To marry Anne, Henry spent years seeking a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and went on to sever England’s relationship with the Catholic Church in Rome, forever changing the course of British history. Despite the lengths he went to ensnare her, Henry soon grew tired of Anne and, choosing to believe the idle gossip surrounding her, had her beheaded in 1536. A number of reports exist of the ghost of Anne Boleyn, but perhaps the most affecting is the version said to haunt her childhood home, Hever Castle in Kent. Some say that every Christmas Eve, the spectral figure of Anne Boleyn can be seen slowly gliding across the bridge over the river Eden toward her family home, where she was at her happiest.

3. THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN AT ROOS HALL

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Roos Hall in Suffolk lays claim to being one of the most haunted houses in England. The 16th century hall has a number of sinister connections, including a gruesome “hanging tree”—an oak tree planted at the site of the old gibbet where numerous criminals were hung. To make things even spookier, inside one of the building's cupboards, the mark of a devil’s cloven hoof is said to be imprinted. But perhaps the most dramatic haunting is supposed to happen every Christmas Eve: Legend has it that a headless horseman clatters down the driveway with his four black horses pulling a phantom coach, terrifying anyone who witnesses him.

4. THE HAUNTED DINING ROOM AT THE CRESCENT HOTEL

Melanie, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, was built in 1886 and is rumoured to harbor numerous ghosts, who seem to be especially playful during the holidays. One Christmas, the staff came down to set up the dining room only to find the Christmas tree had been moved from one side of the room to the other. Another year, all the menus in the dining room had been scattered around the room. Other visitors have reported seeing groups of ghostly dancers clad in Victorian-era clothing, whirling around the deserted dance floor.

5. THE GHOSTLY GATHERING OF KINGS AT WAWEL CASTLE

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Poland's Wawel Royal Castle was built on Wawel Hill in the 1500s. Within the hill lies a deep cave known as Smocza Jama (Dragon’s Den); legend has it that a great dragon once lived there, terrorizing the locals, before Prince Krak bravely vanquished the dragon and brought peace to Poland. To memorialize this event, a statue of the dead dragon now stands in the cave. Go deeper into the cave and you come to yet another chamber, and it is here that on December 24 every year, all the long-gone kings of Poland are said to meet and hold a spectral special council.

6. THE MISTLETOE BRIDE AT BRAMSHILL HOUSE

Tsukiko YAMAMURA, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

In the early 17th century, a young woman named Anne was to be married on Christmas Day at Bramshill House in Hampshire, England. After the ceremony and feast, as was tradition at the time, the guests were all set to carry the bride to the bedchamber. Anne suggested a game be played, and asked for a five-minute head start before the guests came to find her. Everyone searched long and hard for Anne, but no sign of her could be found. At first they thought she had played a merry trick, but soon a sense of unease fell over the guests. The bridegroom, Lord Lovell, was distraught, and guests began to whisper that she must have fled. Days, weeks, months, and years passed, and Lord Lovell never stopped looking for his bride. One day, some 50 years after her disappearance, Lord Lovell was up in the huge attic of the sprawling mansion, where he began tapping on the oak panelling. As he knocked, a long-hidden secret door sprung open, and inside he found an ornate wooden chest. He pried open the heavy wooden lid, and there, still in her wedding dress and clutching her mistletoe bouquet, were the skeletal remains of his beloved. The scratch marks on the inside of the lid of the chest attested to her desperate, but futile, effort to free herself from her hiding space. (While the story appears in many variations, Bramshill House is thought to be the most likely site.)

7. THE APPARITION OF A MURDERED HIGHWAYMAN IN KENT

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One Christmas Eve near the close of the 18th century, a notorious highwayman named Gilbert is said to have stopped a coach and horses on the Hawkhurst Road in Marden, Kent. The coach contained a young lady and her father, and Gilbert ordered them out onto the road. Just as the girl stepped out, the horses bolted, taking the coach and her father with them. The young lady was left alone on the dark road with the highwayman, and as she looked into his face, she recognized him as the very same highwayman who had murdered her brother some years earlier. Horrified, she drew a hidden knife from her bag and stabbed Gilbert in the side, fleeing into the bushes. When the horses were calmed and the coach returned a little while later, the men discovered the bloodied body of the highwayman, and buried him at the side of the road. When villagers found the woman in the forest the next day, she had gone completely mad. They avoided that spot in the road for many years, and it's said that every Christmas Eve, the bloody scene is silently replayed to all that pass through.

Save Up to 80 Percent on Furniture, Home Decor, and Appliances During Wayfair's Way Day 2020 Sale

Wayfair
Wayfair

From September 23 to September 24, customers can get as much as 80 percent off home decor, furniture, WFH essentials, kitchen appliances, and more during the Wayfair's Way Day 2020 sale. Additionally, when you buy a select Samsung appliance during the sale, you'll also get a $200 Wayfair gift card once the product ships. Make sure to see all that the Way Day 2020 sale has to offer. These prices won’t last long, so we've also compiled a list of the best deals for your home below.

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Veterans Day 2020: What's Open? What's Closed?

Many businesses remain open on Veterans Day, and some even have special offers for military members.
Many businesses remain open on Veterans Day, and some even have special offers for military members.
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The United States will observe Veterans Day on Monday, November 11, 2020. The date commemorates all veterans living and deceased who bravely fought for the nation’s freedoms. Originally known as Armistice Day when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation in 1919 to acknowledge the agreement between the Allies and Germany that ended World War I one year earlier, it became a federal holiday in 1938. The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to better reflect the fact that it honors all military veterans, not just those who served in the First World War.

Like many major holidays, knowing what businesses and services are open or closed can be a little tricky. We’ve compiled some of that information here, though it’s always best to double-check individual locations to be sure.

What’s open on Veterans Day?

  • 7-Eleven
  • Ace Hardware
  • ALDI
  • Applebee’s
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Best Buy
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Costco
  • CVS (Though pharmacy counters may close early)
  • Dollar General
  • Dollar Tree
  • Family Dollar
  • GameStop
  • Gap
  • Home Depot
  • IKEA
  • JCPenney
  • Kohl’s
  • Lowe’s
  • Macy’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Nordstrom Rack
  • Rite Aid
  • Sam’s Club
  • Sears
  • Staples
  • Starbucks
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Wegmans
  • Whole Foods

What’s closed?

Most national chains will be open for business, though you might find privately-owned shops are closed.

Is the post office open on Veterans Day?

The United States Post Office will be closed on Veterans Day. But you still might be able to send and receive packages through other means. Federal Express (FedEx) will be open on the holiday. United Parcel Service (UPS) will also be serving customers, though some packages may take an additional day in transit. Additionally, UPS Stores will be open to assist with shipments.

Are liquor stores open on Veterans Day?

This can depend on state laws regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages. It’s best to phone ahead before venturing out.

Are public libraries open on Veterans Day?

Most public libraries are closed in observation of Veterans Day and most federal holidays.

Do government offices stay open on Veterans Day?

Most major government offices, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, will be closed.

Are banks open on Veterans Day?

You’ll find virtually all banks closed on Veterans Day, though you’ll probably be able to access ATMs.

Does anyone offer military discounts or free meals on Veterans Day?

You’ll find plenty of businesses want to honor members of the military with discounts or other incentives. Applebee’s is offering free meals to veterans on Veterans Day. Convenience store chain 7-Eleven will give one free cup of coffee or a Big Gulp to service members. At Lowe’s, veterans get a 10 percent discount on purchases every day.