The Twelve Nightmares of Christmas, Day Four: St. Lucia

Saint Lucia – Patron Saint of the Poor and Blind

In Scandinavian tradition, the Christmas season is welcomed on St. Lucy’s Day, December 13. Young girls, usually the oldest daughter in the family, wake the family members with a breakfast of Lussekatter, currant-filled buns made golden and fragrant with saffron. The girl serves this treat to the family while wearing a crown made of holly, surmounted by several lit candles.

St. Lucy’s Day is yet another holiday observance that emphasizes the triumph of light over darkness. In the Julian calendar, the Winter Solstice fell on December 13, her feast day. St. Lucy is the Catholic patron saint of the poor and the blind—and for good reason.

Lucia lived in Sicily in the late third century AD. A devout Christian, she longed for a life of prayerful chastity, but she faced an arranged marriage. Her husband-to-be happened to compliment Lucia’s beautiful eyes. So she gouged them out and sent them to him, along with a note pleading for him to take what he most admired about her, and to leave the rest of her alone. Lucia was martyred in 303 AD.

But Lucia has a dark side, too. In legend, Lucia was identified with Adam’s first wife. She dumped Adam and took the Devil as her lover, spawning a host of demon children. On her feast night, the longest night of the year, animals gained the power of speech, and her infernal children were free to roam the earth. The next morning, people celebrated with a feast of breakfast buns, saffron-yellow to acknowledge the victory of the sun rising on another day. (Excerpted from my book Spirits of Christmas: The Dark Side of the Holidays)

Extra Fun!

I have a special Christmas surprise for everyone! I’m going to be doing a live radio show tomorrow, Thursday December 16, at 1:30 pm Central. The radio station is KWMR West Marin Community Radio (@KWMRRADIO on all social media channels). Tune in at KWMR.org, and KWMR.org/apps. The host of “Right Now”, Mia Johnson, and I will be chatting about Victorian Christmases, ghost stories at Christmas, and spooky tales for the Dead of Winter. Join us!

The Twelve Nightmares of Christmas, Day Three: Christmas is Cancelled

The Oxford Hotel in Denver, Colorado, is haunted by the forlorn ghost of a mail carrier. The postal worker stopped in at the hotel’s bar for a drink sometime in the 1930s. Taking a few moments from his route to warm up from the snowy weather, he ordered a beer. But he didn’t tarry long. “The children, I have to get the gifts to the children,” he muttered as he paid his tab, slugged the rest of his drink, then left. Later, the staff at the hotel read a news story about a mail carrier who disappeared on his route — he’d been carrying Christmas gifts to Central City. His decomposing body was found during a spring thaw. Next to it were sacks of packages, each containing the gifts he’d been so concerned about.

The postal worker’s ghost still stops by the Oxford Hotel bar now and again. He walks up to the bar, and orders a drink, and looks perfectly solid and human while doing so. The bartenders serve him, and they see him drink, but the level of beer in his glass never goes down.

And speaking of stories, do you know there’s a new book out, called Days of the Dead: A Year of True Ghost Stories? And did you further know there’s a new calendar out, to go along with the book? Yep! A solid year’s worth of true ghost stories in one handy twelve-month package. $18 gets it sent right to your door. Click on the “Contact Me” button at the top of this page, and we’ll get you set up for 2022!

Oh, and one more thing — go visit Weird Darkness Weirdos. It’s weird over there, but weird is good. (Hey, you found ME, didn’t you?) www.weirddarkness.com

The Twelve Nightmares of Christmas, Day Two: Lights Out!

Welcome to the Dead of Winter! Today we’re going to revisit a couple of Lights Out episodes from years past. Curl up by the Christmas tree, turn on the tree lights, have a cup of something warm and lovely handy, and let’s go … Lights Out.

Lights Out Extra: Christmas 2020. https://youtu.be/tcFUsqrKSUI

Lights Out #66: Christmas 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvAANf27Eb4&t

Lights Out #52: Christmas 2017. The Roving Skeleton of Boston Bay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1o74O6A-aw&t=27s

Lights Out #51: Plymouth Courthouse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZY-ntKexJk

Lights Out #32: Christmas 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alg6AOjuQvE&t=6s

And you know what else you should do? You should go visit Darren Marlar over at Weird Darkness, see what he’s got going on. Get curious! Tell him I sent you.

The Twelve Nightmares of Christmas, Day One: Today I Learned…

Merry Saturkwanzukah, everyone!

I’m delighted to bring you the Twelve Nightmares of Christmas this year, just like I did last year. Can you believe this is the fifth year we’ve done this? And boy, have I got some great stuff for you guys!

Here’s the best part: I am once again partnering with Darren Marlar, of Weird Darkness, to bring you these twelve days of holiday cheer and chills. Be sure to stop by www.weirddarkness.com to check out what mayhem Darren and the Weirdos of Marlar House have in store for you.

Today I Learned … in the movie Die Hard, Alan Rickman was deliberately dropped two seconds early to capture the true reaction of his character, the villainous Hans Gruber, falling to his death from the Nakatomi Plaza Building. Rickman had agreed to fall backward onto an airbag 25 feet below on the count of “three”, but director John McTiernan thought he would get a better reaction if they secretly dropped him on the count of “one”. (From Ripley’s Believe It or Not: A Century of Strange)

The New Year Is Coming…

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? The end of the year is fast approaching, and you know what that means … yep, it’s time to think about calendars! Does someone you know have a wall that needs a bit of spooky decoration?

Last year’s calendar went quickly, so if you’d like to order your 2022 Days of the Dead calendar, go ahead and smash that link. https://sylviashults.wordpress.com/contact/ . This year’s calendar is bigger! And better! And did I mention BIGGER? Plus it’s a brand-new crop of ghost stories from the pages of Days of the Dead. $18 gets you all set for a brand-new year, and that includes me sending the calendar right to your doorstep. Even Santa needs a little help now and then!

So let’s welcome the new year with a story for every month! Order your 2022 Days of the Dead Calendar today, and MAKE EVERY DAY SPOOKY!

There’s Still Time…

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, but you’ve still got time to order your 2022 Days of the Dead calendar!

Last year’s calendar went quickly, so if you’d like to order your calendar, go ahead and smash that link. https://sylviashults.wordpress.com/contact/ . This year’s calendar is bigger! And better! And did I mention BIGGER? Plus it’s a brand-new crop of ghost stories from the pages of Days of the Dead. $18 gets you all set for a brand-new year, and that includes me sending the calendar right to your doorstep. I’m hoping to avoid supply-chain issues, so I’ve already worked up the calendar and sent it off to the printers, and they do look gorgeous.

So let’s welcome the new year with a story for every month! Order your 2022 Days of the Dead Calendar today, and MAKE EVERY DAY SPOOKY!

2022 Is Fast Approaching …

Okay, I have no idea how this happened, but 2022 is nearly here! The end of the year is fast approaching, and you know what that means … yep, it’s time to think about calendars!

Last year’s calendar went quickly, so if you’d like to order your 2022 Days of the Dead calendar, go ahead and smash that link. https://sylviashults.wordpress.com/contact/ . This year’s calendar is bigger! And better! And did I mention BIGGER? Plus it’s a brand-new crop of ghost stories from the pages of Days of the Dead. $18 gets you all set for a brand-new year, and that includes me sending the calendar right to your doorstep. I’m hoping to avoid supply-chain issues, so I’ve already worked up the calendar and sent it off to the printers, and they do look gorgeous.

So let’s welcome the new year with a story for every month! Order your 2022 Days of the Dead Calendar today, and MAKE EVERY DAY SPOOKY!

Today I Learned…

The Vikings were badasses, and pretty resourceful besides. They would gather a special type of fungus that grows on trees, slice it into chunks, then boil the chunks in a pot full of urine for several days. Urine contains sodium nitrate, which permeated the fungus and reacted with it. The urine-treated fungus, when dried, could be lit and left to smolder without burning properly for a long time. This made it easy to transport coals for a fire.

2022 is almost here…

Okay, I have no idea how this happened, but 2022 is nearly here! The end of the year is fast approaching, and you know what that means … yep, it’s time to think about calendars!

Last year’s calendar went quickly, so if you’d like to order your 2022 Days of the Dead calendar, go ahead and smash that link. https://sylviashults.wordpress.com/contact/ . This year’s calendar is bigger! And better! And did I mention BIGGER? Plus it’s a brand-new crop of ghost stories from the pages of Days of the Dead. $18 gets you all set for a brand-new year, and that includes me sending the calendar right to your doorstep. I’m hoping to avoid supply-chain issues, so I’ve already worked up the calendar and sent it off to the printers, and they do look gorgeous.

So let’s welcome the new year with a story for every month! Order your 2022 Days of the Dead Calendar today, and MAKE EVERY DAY SPOOKY!

Days of the Dead Review

So a couple weeks ago, I posted the link to a review of Days of the Dead. Becky Spratford, a reviewer for none other than Booklist, really enjoyed the book. Then it occurred to me, hey, maybe I should go ahead and post the ACTUAL review, with actual WORDS, instead of making you guys click a link. So here it is!

“This book is as advertised and even better than the hook promises it will be. As Shults says in her introduction, “Ghosts are with us, every single day.” That hook is intriguing and seducing to those who love Horror.
She then gives us an example, a ghost story tied to every single day of the year. These stories are from all over the world, and across the entire time span of human storytelling. 
Using her 20+ years of paranormal research, Shults presents these true ghost stories in context, giving you the date, obviously, but also the place and year.  Even though readers are jumping around time and space, Shults unites it all with her solid writing. It reads as if she took each day as a new challenge to hook the reader immediately. 
I started reading this book thinking, oh I will read a few days in January and then skip around reading a few days in each month, but I was hooked and when I looked up, I was through all of January. 
The stories are compelling on their own. I got fully immersed in each story. But also don’t underestimate the fun here. There is a story for every meaningful day in your patron’s lives. They can use this to look up a scary tale for their birthday, the birthday of a loved one, an important event in their lives, etc… Honestly, you need a copy of this book to circulate in your paranormal sections AND one in reference, for you and your patrons to consult as a calendar of days. You can use it as a prompt for displays or social media posts or to prank your co-workers on their birthdays. 
The uses for this book are endless, but again, it is also a solid nonfiction Horror on its own. 
Thank you to Haunted Road Media for donating a copy of this library friendly paranormal nonfiction title to me to give away to you. Consider ordering this title for your collections. Trust me, your patrons will LOVE it. And since it has a story for every single day of the year [even Leap Day] it can be incorporated into displays and promotions all year long.”

Today I Learned …

Hannah Twynney holds the dubious honor of being England’s first tiger fatality. According to history, Hannah was a barmaid at Malesbury’s White Lion Pub in the 1700s. A traveling zoo came to town, and Hannah was fascinated with the animals — who wouldn’t be, at that time? Hannah was so into the animals that she wouldn’t stop poking at them through the bars of their cages. The tiger, in particular, got tired of being prodded and teased. It turned around, swiped out a paw, and mauled Hannah to death. She died October 23, 1703, at the age of 33.

Today I Learned…

After moving into a house in Pancevo, Yugoslavia, the new owner opened some shutters in front of a walled-in window and was surprised to find that unopened mail — some of it dating back 90 years — tumbled out. Mrs. Vera Aremovic told reporters that her father and grandfather, both merchants with extensive business connections throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, had lived in the house during the nine decades postmen had been dropping mail through an open shutter thinking there was a glass pane behind it. Their business had eventually failed, she said, because their customers complained that they never answered letters. (From Bizarre World, by Bill Bryson)