With its tales of benevolent and malicious specters, terrifying monsters, and unexplained phenomena, Halloween is the holiday most people associate with spooky stories. But do spirits remain hidden the rest of the year? In the rich storytelling customs of the commonwealth, the supernatural world is also connected with holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Memorial Day.
InHaunted Holidays, celebrated storytellers Roberta Simpson Brown and Lonnie E. Brown have assembled a hair-raising collection of paranormal tales for readers of all ages. The stories present many new and spooky characters, including the deceased great aunt who still rocks in her favorite chair on Mother's Day, the young boy who made good on his promise to return a silver dollar on the Fourth of July, and even the ghost who hated Labor Day. In addition to tales of haunting, the Browns reveal many Appalachian legends and their importance to the storytelling tradition, such as the phantom bells who guide the dead to the other side, and a "chime child" born when the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day, who is rumored to be blessed with the gift of second sight.
More than a collection of ghost stories or family legends,Haunted Holidaystakes readers on a fireside journey that preserves and promotes oral traditions, revealing the importance of sharing beliefs, traditions, and values with a new generation of listeners.
Front MatterFront Matter (pp. [i]-[vi])
Table of ContentsTable of Contents (pp. [vii]-[viii])
IntroductionIntroduction (pp. 1-4)
This collection of stories was inspired by the strangest request for a story that we have ever had. It came from the ghost of a young boy! We were amazed at the way it happened.
At the start of Memorial Day weekend on May 24, 2013, we joined our friend Sharon Brown on a tour of Wickland, a haunted historic mansion in Bardstown, Kentucky. The historic aspect of the mansion alone would be of sufficient interest to draw people to take a tour; however, the presence of ghostly spirits in the mansion adds its own magic.
Built between 1825 and...
Martin Luther King Jr. DayMartin Luther King Jr. Day (pp. 5-8)
Martin Luther King Jr., clergyman and nonviolent activist for the civil rights movement, was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He died by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the third Monday in January. Although originally intended to commemorate King’s birthday, the holiday, like other holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, always falls on a Monday. It was officially observed in all fifty states for the first time in the year 2000.
Dr. King was a leader of the civil rights movement in the...
Valentine’s DayValentine’s Day (pp. 9-20)
Valentine’s Day (also known as St. Valentine’s Day or the Feast of St. Valentine) is celebrated February 14, a date fixed by the Catholic Church.
It is said that St. Valentine of Rome sent the first valentine. He was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians. Legend states that, while imprisoned, he healed his jailer’s daughter. It is also said that, before his execution, he wrote her a farewell letter and signed it “Your Valentine.”
This holiday began as a liturgical celebration of early Christian saints named Valentine. It was first...
St. Patrick’s DaySt. Patrick’s Day (pp. 21-36)
St. Patrick’s Day (in Ireland, the Feast of St. Patrick) is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated each year on March 17, the day St. Patrick died. It is celebrated by the Irish people and people of Irish descent.
The holiday is observed by attending church services, enjoying parades, sporting shamrocks, wearing green, and drinking Irish beer and Irish whiskey. Those who do not drink alcohol might eat Irish potatoes, Irish stew, and Irish soda bread.
Information about St. Patrick comes from theDeclaration,a letter said to have been written by St. Patrick himself.
Patrick was born in Roman...
EasterEaster (pp. 37-48)
Easter is a religious holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead three days after his crucifix ion by the Romans.
The holiday may be observed in several ways—by attending church services or sunrise services, taking part in egg hunts, sharing family meals, and engaging in prayer vigils.
Easter is a movable feast, which means it does not have a fixed day of celebration on the calendar. The earliest direct evidence of the celebration of Easter dates from the middle of the second century AD.
Easter was a special religious holiday to us, as it was to...
Mother’s DayMother’s Day (pp. 49-62)
Tributes to mothers go back to the early Greeks, the Romans, and Christians who honored Mary, the mother of Christ.
In the United States, Mother’s Day began around 150 years ago. Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a “Mother’s Work Day” to raise awareness of poor health conditions where she lived. After she died in 1905, her daughter, also named Anna, campaigned to create a special day honoring mothers. In 1914 Anna’s hard work was rewarded when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. It...
Memorial DayMemorial Day (pp. 63-74)
Memorial Day typically marks the beginning of the summer season. A U.S. federal holiday for remember ing the men and women who died in service to our country, it is celebrated on the last Monday of May. Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was established after the Civil War to honor those who had died in that war, but by the twentieth century Memorial Day had become a celebration to honor all Americans who died in military service.
General John Logan officially proclaimed the day a holiday on May 5, 1868; it was first observed on May 30, 1868.
Father’s DayFather’s Day (pp. 75-84)
Since the role of fathers is as important as that of mothers, it seemed only right to establish a day to honor them, too. There are differences of opinion about the origin of Father’s Day. Some say it started in West Virginia, others say Washington State, and still others believe it began in Chicago. In any case, the idea to set aside a special day for fathers started in the early years of the twentieth century.
The most popular origin story credits Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. During a church service in 1909, she thought of how her father,...
Independence DayIndependence Day (pp. 85-120)
Independence Day, July 4, is a federal holiday honoring our nation’s birthday. It commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which marked our independence from the kingdom of Great Britain.
The first recorded use of the name “Independence Day” was in 1791. The U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1938, Congress made Independence Day a paid federal holiday.
We celebrate July 4 in many ways—with picnics, concerts, parades, political gatherings, speeches, and fireworks! Macy’s, in New York City, sponsors the largest fireworks display in the country.
Labor DayLabor Day (pp. 121-138)
Other countries have holidays that honor workers, but we will limit ourselves here to stories related to the Labor Day holiday that is celebrated in the United States.
Labor Day was established as an official U.S. holiday in 1887 and is celebrated on the first Monday in September. Whether we think of it as the end of the summer or the start of a new school year, Labor Day is in fact meant to honor our nation’s working people.
The pattern for Labor Day celebrations was outlined in the first proposal for the holiday. It recommended that there be a...
Columbus DayColumbus Day (pp. 139-144)
Columbus Day first became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since 1970 it has been celebrated on the second Monday in October. The holiday commemorates the anniversary of Italian navigator Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492.
Columbus Day celebrations tend to be more about Ital ian American heritage than the man himself.
Columbus Day is celebrated in several other countries besides the United States, though the extent of the festivities ranges from large-scale parades to nonobservance.
If it hadn’t been for Columbus Day, we would not have...
HalloweenHalloween (pp. 145-178)
Halloween is celebrated on October 31, but it did not become a holiday in the United States until the nineteenth century. The traditions of the Puritans still lingered, and this restricted the observance of many holidays, including Halloween.
Then nearly two million Irish immigrated to the United States after the Irish Potato Famine (1845–1849). They brought with them their heritage of Irish legends and Halloween. Scottish immigrants to Canada and the United States brought their own version of Halloween.
Many celebrated the holiday with home parties centered on children’s activities, but outside pranks and mischief be came common as...
Veterans DayVeterans Day (pp. 179-184)
We will start our chapter on Veterans Day with a grammatical note about the title. There is some difference in spelling on calendars and elsewhere. Some sources spell it “Veteran’s Day”; others, “Veterans’ Day.” The United States government has declared that the official rendering is the simple plural, with no apostrophe.
Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11. Originally called Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I, the name was changed to Veterans Day by Congress on June 1, 1954, to honor all those who served in the U.S. armed forces. On Veterans Day, nonessential government offices...
Thanksgiving DayThanksgiving Day (pp. 185-196)
In America, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. According to history, the Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest in the fall of 1621. Many consider this the first Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1863 with a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
Today our national traditional Thanksgiving feast normally includes roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy or sweet potatoes, sweet corn, green beans or green peas, corn bread, biscuits, and pump kin or mince pie.
Besides the feasting, there are other ways to celebrate....
Pearl Harbor DayPearl Harbor Day (pp. 197-200)
Americans remember Pearl Harbor Day each year on December 7. The surprise attack by the Japanese forces on that date in 1941 on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killed more than 2,400 military personnel and drew the United States into World War II.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it “a day which will live in infamy” and declared that no matter how long it might take to overcome the invasion, the American people would win through to absolute victory. The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan. Pearl Harbor was a strategic military base in the Pacific. The...
HanukkahHanukkah (pp. 201-204)
There were no Jewish residents in Roberta’s neighborhood when she was growing up. She learned about the Jews from her Bible studies in Sunday school. Even though she did not understand their rich traditions, she was always eager to learn about people with different beliefs than her own.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights sometime between late November and late December on the secular calendar. In Hebrew, the word “Ha nukkah” means “dedication.” This holiday commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks. By the time the...
ChristmasChristmas (pp. 205-232)
Christmas Day is a Christian holiday marking the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on December 25. In 1893 all the states of the United States declared Christmas a federal holiday, and it has been our biggest holiday ever since.
At Christmastime, most homes and businesses are decorated with sparkling lights, Christmas trees, and symbols of legends such as snowmen, Santa Claus, reindeer, candy canes, holly, mistletoe, and religious nativity scenes.
People sing carols, read, attend concerts and plays, go for sleigh rides, and eat treats of candy, cakes, and pies. Many children hang stockings for Santa to fill...
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s DayNew Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (pp. 233-242)
Since the 1900s, it has become customary to celebrate New Year’s Eve on December 31 and ring in the New Year.
Many celebrate with parties, champagne, and a kiss at midnight. They make New Year’s resolutions and sing “Auld Lang Syne.” Fireworks and music accompany the stroke of midnight, ushering in the New Year.
Some people, like us, prefer a quiet evening at home watching the ball come down in Times Square, New York.
New Year’s Day is celebrated in different ways all over the world, but everywhere it represents a new beginning.
In the United States, it is traditional...
ConclusionConclusion (pp. 243-244)
Whether you are a believer in ghosts or not, we hope you enjoyed these stories as much as we enjoyed putting this collection together for you.
As you have seen, ghost stories are not just for Halloween. There are ghost stories for all year round. Storytelling is one of Kentucky’s greatest traditions.
When you are thinking of gifts for holidays, remember that a printed book or an e-book would be nice. But a magical gift your loved ones will never forget is actually hearing a story!...
AcknowledgmentsAcknowledgments (pp. 245-248)
About the AuthorsAbout the Authors (pp. 249-250)