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Features Archive:

2006 Archive:
The Winchester Mystery House - Ghost Chronicles
December 28, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Investigating Jane Doherty - Ghost Chronicles
December 20, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Shadow People - by Lee Prosser
December 16, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Westford Knight - Ghost Chronicles
December 15, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Haunted Real Estate by Richard Senate
December 13, 2006

Traditions Behind Christmas By Vince Wilson
December 8, 2006

The Haunted Dibbuk Box - Ghost Chronicles
December 6, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Have Ghosts? Will Travel: A Ghostgeek's Guide to the RMS Queen Mary By Jen Brown
December 4, 2006

Thanksgiving: A Day of Forgiveness - by Lee Prosser
December 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

America's Stonehenge - Ghost Chronicles
November 29, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) - by Jeff Belanger
November 16, 2006

Ghost Hunt Seminar - Ghost Chronicles
November 15, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Ghost Photography: Orbs by Robbin Van Pelt
November 9, 2006

Pet Ghosts - Ghost Chronicles
November 6, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Ghosts Haunt the Inn by Richard Senate
November 3, 2006

Japanese Woman Artist - by Lee Prosser
November 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Ghosts of the Windham Restaurant - Ghost Chronicles
October 30, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

The Salem Witches - Ghost Chronicles
October 23, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Homan House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: A Preliminary Report by John Sabol
October 20, 2006

What Does Halloween/Samhain Mean to You? - Compiled by Jeff Belanger
October 16, 2006

That is the Way of It - by Lee Prosser
October 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Fooling the Ghost Hunter by Richard Senate
October 11, 2006

Jack Kerouac - by Lee Prosser
October 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

Civil War Re-enactors and the Ghost Experience - by Jeff Belanger
September 15, 2006

Who Goes There in the Shadows? - by Lee Prosser
September 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Engagement and Data Analysis in Symmetrical Field Investigations by John Sabol
September 11, 2006

Occult Warfare by Richard Senate
September 6, 2006

Cats and Other Critters From Beyond the Grave - by Lee Prosser
September 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

Chicago's Strange Angles and Haunted Architecture by Ursula Bielski
August 25, 2006

I Have a Hunch: A Look at Psychics, Mediums, and Clairvoyants - by Jeff Belanger
August 16, 2006

Geof Gray-Cobb - by Lee Prosser
August 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Orbs: Have They Become that Boring? by Tuesday Miles
August 14, 2006

A Night on Char-Man Bridge by Richard Senate
August 7, 2006

Five Union Soldier Ghosts - by Lee Prosser
August 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

A Visit With Author and Witch Kala Trobe - Interview by Lee Prosser
July 26, 2006

Perceptual Stratigraphy: Making Sense of Ghostly Manifestations by John Sabol
July 24, 2006

The Trouble With Witches - by Lee Prosser
July 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

A Look at Our Haunted Lives - by Jeff Belanger
July 13, 2006

An Active Ghost Hunt at a Haunted Bed and Breakfast by Richard Senate
July 7, 2006

Lee Prosser, 1969 - by Lee Prosser
July 4, 2006

Column - regular feature

My Theory on Spirits by Edward L. Shanahan
June 28, 2006

Ethnoarchaeoghostology: A Humanistic-Scientific Approach to the Study of Haunt Phenomena by John Sabol
June 19, 2006

Christopher Isherwood & Lee Prosser in 1969 - by Lee Prosser
June 16, 2006

Column - regular feature

ESP, M&Ms, and Reality - by Jeff Belanger
June 15, 2006

A Duel on the Airwaves by Richard Senate
June 5, 2006

Marjorie Firestone and Her Dream Predictions - by Lee Prosser
June 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

Until Death Do Us Part? by Rick Hayes
May 31, 2006

Part Four: the Conclusion: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
May 22, 2006

Column - regular feature

Folklore, Folklore, Folklore with Dr. Michael Bell - interview by Jeff Belanger
May 16, 2006

Swami Chetanananda and Lee Prosser - by Lee Prosser
May 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Theatre, Sance, and the Ghost Script: Performances at Haunted Locations by John Sabol
May 5, 2006

Willard David Firestone and the River Ghost - by Lee Prosser
May 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

When the Spirits Held Sway at the White House by Richard Senate
April 25, 2006

Part Three: Investigation: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
April 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Talking Reincarnation with Dr. John Gilbert - interview by Lee Prosser
April 17, 2006

Billy Bob Firestone and the Ghosts of Pythian Castle - by Lee Prosser
April 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Cryptobotany: the Search for Lost Plants by Richard Senate
April 7, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 4 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
April 6, 2006

Vedanta and Durga - by Lee Prosser
April 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 3 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 30, 2006

Ritual, Resonance, and Ghost Research: The Play in the Fields by John Sabol
March 27, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 2 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 23, 2006

Celtic This, Druid That, Saint Patrick Hit Me With a Wiffle-Ball Bat - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
March 21, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 1 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 16, 2006

Christopher Isherwood, Time Loops, and Ghosts - by Lee Prosser
March 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Druids - by Lee Prosser
March 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

Natural Selection and the Involution of the Gettysburg Ghosts by John Sabol
February 28, 2006

Part Two: Investigation: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
February 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Lights, Camera... Action! by Brian Leffler
February 16, 2006

Divination and Geomancy - by Lee Prosser
February 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Spirit Messages from a Murderer by Richard Senate
February 8, 2006

The Ghosts of Springfield, Missouri - by Lee Prosser
February 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Ghost Storyteller: A Dinosaur Among Lemmings? by Charles J. Adams III
January 23, 2006

The Fools Journey: A Magickal Roadmap to Life - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
January 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Tarot and Spiritual Alchemy - by Lee Prosser
January 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Demons from the Dark by Chip Coffey
January 9, 2006

Spooky - by Lee Prosser
January 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

December 8, 2006

Traditions Behind Christmas

By Vince Wilson

Tis the season to be Jolly! It is the most wonderful time of the year after all! Is that a Yule Log your Aunt Sue sent you, or a last years fruitcake? Have you decked the halls and are you hanging your stockings with care? I should have written and sent this on November 1st since Santa was already setting up shop downtown! Santa, Yule Logs, mistletoe, and Fruitcake did you ever wonder where those traditions come from?

Traditions like the 12 days of Christmas, Yule logs, gift giving, parades with floats, caroling, the holiday feasts, and church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians. That's a long way back! The Mesopotamians believed in many gods and a king of the gods -- Marduk. Each year as winter arrived it was believed that Marduk would do battle with the monsters of chaos. To assist Marduk in his struggle, the Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year. This was Zagmuk, the New Year's festival that lasted for 12 days. In Scandinavia during the winter months, the sun would disappear for many days. After thirty-five days, scouts would hike up to the mountaintops to look for the sun. When the sun was seen, the scouts would head back with the great news. A festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. They would celebrate the Yuletide until the Yule log burned out, which sometimes took 12 days! Great bonfires would also be lit to celebrate the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.

The Christian "Christmas" (Christ's Mass) celebration was invented to compete against the pagan celebrations of December. The 25th was not only sacred to the Romans, but also the Persians whose religion, Mithraism, was one of Christianity's main rivals at that time. 

In the first few centuries of the advent of Christianity only Easter was celebrated. In the fourth century church officials thought it was about time to have a celebration of the "birth" of Christ. The Church eventually was successful in taking the merriment, lights, and gifts from the Saturanilia (the Roman holiday) festival and bringing them to the celebration of Christmas. The exact day of Christ's birth has never been pinpointed. Traditions say that it has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of Christ celebrated as a solemn feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I (Pope Pious I), choose December 25th as the observance of Christmas. At this point though, Christmas wasnt Christmas. It was called the Feast of the Nativity. 

Now for the most terrifying Christmas tradition of all! A parasite that forces people to make romantic approaches on members of the opposite sex with or without consent - the mistletoe!

Yes, mistletoe is a parasite. Although capable of growing on its own, it more commonly latches onto trees and leaches off nutrients from the host. The berries that grow from mistletoe are poisonous. How romantic! Well, the Norse people thought it was a romantic plant anyway. They started the tradition of kissing under it, after all. According to Norse myth, the mother of all the gods, Frigga, tried to prevent the foretold death of her son, Balder. So, Frigga went to every living and nonliving thing on Earth and asked that every plant, rock, and animal promise not to harm Balder. She succeeded in getting a promise from everyone and everything except, you guessed it, the mistletoe. One day the gods were making a sport of the newly invincible Balder by throwing weapons at him and all sorts of objects. If they through a rock at Balder it would hurtle away from him before getting to close. Loki, the god of mischievous and evil learned of the mistletoe oops and fashioned an arrow of the plant. One of the gods shot the arrow at Balder and shore enough -- he died. Luckily Balders mom was a god and brought him back to life. From that day forth it was decreed that none may battle under the mistletoe and that all must kiss when meeting beneath it. Its easy at this point to see how it so easily translates to a Christmas tradition.

Would you believe that in the early days Christmas was the Middle Ages answer to what we consider, today, a Halloween standard -- trick or treating! After church, many celebrated Christmas by getting drunk and acting like they were in New Orleans during Mari Gras. During the Christmas season a student or beggar would be made the "Lord of Misrule." Then the crowd of subjects would go to the homes of the rich and demand the owners best food and drinks. Tricks would be played on those who did not offer treats. This may be the origin of Christmas charity.

It was also in the Middle Ages that a plague would ravage Christianity. No, I am not talking about the Black Death. I am talking about something that would last even to this day (almost literally in some cases) -- the fruitcake! 

It was in the 16th century that dried fruits and vegetables first starting arriving in Britain from Portugal and the Mediterranean. Early fruitcakes were made for only very special occasions due to the time and effort that went into them. The Oxford Companion to Food, by Alan Davidson has this to say:

Making a rich fruit cake in the 18th century was a major undertaking. The ingredients had to be carefully prepared. Fruit was washed, dried, and stoned [taking the pits out] if necessary; sugar, cut from loaves, had to be pounded and sieved; butter washed in water and rinsed in rosewater. Eggs were beaten for a long time, half an hour being commonly directed. Yeast, or barm from fermenting beer, had to be coaxed to life. Finally, the cook had to cope with the temperamental wood-fired baking ovens of that time. No wonder these cakes acquired such mystique..."

Other Christmas foods include the candy cane, which is said to be in either the shape of a shepherds crook or the letter J for Jesus and may have been invented in 1670 by a German Choir master. The sugarplum was not a plum at all but a soft sugary treat popular from the 17th to 19th Century. 

The Puritans thought Christmas was too pagan for them and banned it when they came to the Americas. In Boston, Christmas was outlawed from 1659 to 1681 and anyone showing any Christmas spirit could be fined five shillings! The American War of Independence didnt help matters. Many Americans wouldnt celebrate any English traditions -- including Christmas. After the Constitution was ratified in 1789 there was even a session of congress on Christmas day. It didnt become a federal holiday until 1870.

The Romans would "deck their halls" with garlands of laurel and green trees lit with candles. The Christmas tree tradition really started with the Germans in the 16th century. They would bring evergreen trees into their homes. Its thought that Martin Luther was the first person to put candles into trees. While walking home he fell in love with the sight of the night sky with the stars shining through the trees. When he got home he wanted to show his family the same beautiful site and tied candles into a tree. Why he didnt just take them outside instead of inventing the worlds first fire hazard tradition is unknown. It wasnt until Queen Victoria was drawn in a picture in a London newspaper around a Christmas tree with the other royals that the tradition caught on in 1846.

Washington Irving is actually credited with finally giving Christmas its modern peace, love, and charity makeover in 1819. Irvings The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gentleman featured a squire name Geoffrey Crayon (no relation to the childs toy as far as I know) who would invite the lower class into his home where they would mingle without issues. Another famous author, Charles Dickens, would write what would become one of the great Christmas stories of any time -- A Christmas Carol. This heartwarming tale would galvanize Christmas as a celebration of goodwill and love.

So, what about Santa Claus?

Yes, Virginia, there really was a Santa Claus. A monk who would become a pope, St. Nicholas was born in Turkey around 280 AD. Very pious and kind, St. Nick was said to have given away all of his property to help the poor. St. Nicholas was very popular in Holland where he was known as Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). This would become Santa Claus as Dutch immigrants spread their traditions in the US around the end of the 18th century. The Imagery of Santa differed greatly at this time until the writings of Episcopal minister Clement Clarke Moore in 1822. He wrote An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas which would later become Twas the night before Christmas. Cartoonist Thomas Nast used Moores story and elaborated on it for a cartoon he did in Harpers Weekly in 1881. It was from this cartoon that Santa got a Mrs. Claus, a red white-trimmed suit and hat, North Pole location, toy workshop, and elves as helpers.

Santa and Christmas shopping bring the inevitable Christmas is so commercialized now comments. Christmas is a state of mind and more importantly a feeling that you hold in your heart. It doesnt really matter what religion you belong to, the concept is universal. Those that would have Christmas removed from public schools and government buildings are atheists for the most part and not part of an offended non-Christian religion. Those are the people that propagate the commercialized Christmas myth. They want you to think that Christians are hypocrites for selling out. It is a successful campaign however since more and more people are commenting each year that Christmas is commercialized. Yes, there are lots of advertisements on TV and lots of sales in malls, but people are out buying presents for loved ones and the retailers know it. If you owned a department store would you do any different? After all, when was the last time you whittled your kids toys or knitted a sweater for someone? Christmas is what you bring to it. After all, that is what belief is all about, right?

By the way Xmas is not a non-religious way of writing Christmas. In Greek the word for Christ is Xristos. It was in the 16th century that early Christians used X as shorthand for Christ. The X was also a popular symbol of the Cross.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Vince Wilson is the author of Ghost Tech and Ghost Science. He has lectured on ghost hunting technology and has also appeared on numerous radio and TV stations in regards to his work in paranormal research. He has also been featured on Creepy Canada in 2005 aboard the USS Constellation and the Discovery Channel in 2006 for an investigation he did at the Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore. His Web site is:


The Food Timeline

The History Channel 

The Holiday Spot 

Holidays on the Net 

The Oxford Companion to Food, by Alan Davidson
Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

2014 Haunted New England Wall Calendar by Jeff Belanger photography by Frank Grace
Check out the 2014 Haunted New England wall calendar by Jeff Belanger and photography by Frank Grace!

Paranormal Conferences and Lectures
Don't miss the following events and lectures:

Jeff Belanger and “The Bridgewater Triangle” at Dedham Community Theatre - April 6, 2014 9:00PM

The Spirits of the Mark Twain House - Hartford, Connecticut - April 12, 2014

Paracon Australia - East Maitland, New South Wales, Australia - May 10-12, 2014