“A sad tale’s best for winter. I have one/Of sprites and goblins,” declares the young Mamillius in The Winter’s Tale. For years in Victorian England, Christmastime was the season of ghostly tales, told against the warmth of the fire or by candlelight. Prior to electricity, winter was dark indeed, and seemed to promise sprites and goblins lurking in the night, just beyond our vision. Before Halloween, Christmas Eve was regarded as a mischief night for these entities, one last turn in the realm of the living before the holy day, and huddling by the hearth in the company of loved ones was a respite from this procession of otherworldly chaos. In those dark, demon-haunted winters, when the nights grew longer, telling ghost stories served to entertain and to remind ourselves that our time on Earth was numbered.

The longest of these nights, and the first day of winter, is December 21. In the Advent season, it is also known as BLUE CHRISTMAS, an observance to honor loved ones who have passed and to comfort those experiencing grief of their absence. It is the inspiration for our next special.

This winter, join us by the fire and tell stories–real or imagined–of loss, of hauntings (whether by supernatural or all-too-human means), of melancholy, of hope, from our “low life/high strangeness” underworld perspective. But be swift–night is near.

Deadline is December 9. Submissions are open in all categories. Please use normal guidelines when submitting.

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