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Scary Holiday Tales To Make You Scream
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-074-4
Genre: Supernatural/Horror
eBook Length: 337 Pages
Published: July 2003

From inside the flap

Here is a collection of stories for those of you who shudder at the thought of gulping down one more of Aunt Ida's "famous" cookies, who dread facing another interminable discourse from Uncle Earl about pig farm economics. If the first few notes of "Away in a Manger" cause you to grab something sharp and look around frantically for an eye to stab it in this book was written for you.

Scary Holiday Tales to Make You Scream has it all from the creepiest Halloween moments to the most blood red Christmas parties imaginable. In fact, many of our modern celebrations have long, gory histories. The greeting card industry doesn't have an inkling about the ancient rituals that continue to cast their shadow over today's holidays.

Scary Holiday Tales To Make You Scream (Excerpt)

SCARY! Holiday Tales To Make You Scream
Edited by Paul Melniczek

Introductions by John Edward Lawson

All I Wanted For Christmas --- L.J. Blount
An Ideal Family Holiday --- John Edward Lawson
The Slay Bells --- Simon Wood
The Santa of Sector 24-G --- Scott Christian Carr
Nightmare on 34th Street --- Paul Kane
Far-Off Things --- Quentin Crisp
Green Grow'th the Holly, So Doth the Ivy --- G.W. Thomas
Docking Bay Three --- Megan Powell
Night of the Party --- Mark West

The Gruesome Harvester --- Brutal Dreamer
Halloween, Gypsies, and Dogs --- JD Pearce
The Boblin --- Michael A. Arnzen
Real Monsters --- Bob L. Morgan

Killing Cupid --- Shawn P. Madison
Saint Valentine's Day Kiss --- Sandy De Luca

Chicken --- Elizabeth R. Peake

Ash Wednesday --- HORNS

Camper's Legend --- Nicole Thomas

Gobble, Gobble, Oxen Free --- Kurt Newton
Emma SRED, the Sleepy Head --- Jeremy Carr
Bitter Bird --- John Grover

Forsaken --- Jason Brannon

Firestar of the May Queen --- Susanne S. Brydenbaugh

Locked & Loaded --- Steven L. Shrewsbury

Night of the Saltire --- Alex Severin

The Boy Who Fell To Earth --- Hertzan Chimera
Holiday --- Sarah Crabtree
Happy Lemur Day --- Marc Sanchez
Boboshka --- Kailleaugh Anderssen

In contemporary society Christmas is thought of as the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth. It is a merry time for Christians to celebrate and spend time with their loved ones. Largely this is a creation of the Victorian era, popularized during the 1860s. The origins of this holiday, though, are of quite a different nature. The true history of Christmas goes back well over four thousand years.

The ancient Mesopotamians called their New Year Zagmuk, a twelve day festival marking the battle between light and darkness. The god Marduk entered mortal combat with the chaotic forces of darkness to prevent winter from taking over. To achieve this end their king was to be sacrificed yearly in order to fight at Marduk's side. The Mesopotamians, however, had no interest in losing a king each year. The solution was to select a "Mock King" from among the criminal population. He was given all the privileges of royalty but died at the festival's end.

Not only do the twelve days of Christmas stem from these traditions, but strangely the theme of having the impoverished and enslaved switch roles with the upper class became a centerpiece of most winter solstice holidays along the Mediterranean and throughout Europe.

A case in point is the Babylonian and Persian holiday of Sacaea, wherein slaves ruled over their masters. The Roman holiday of Saturnalia, celebrated from the middle of December through mid-January, also gave similar power to slaves at the masters' expense and the peasants took control of Rome. Later, Europeans would celebrate Christmas in a raucous, Mardi-Gras manner. During the drunkenness locals would appoint a "lord of misrule" and obey his commands, then besiege the homes of the wealthy taking their best food and wine. If the rich refused the mob there was often trouble.

Still other variations of the holiday focused less on class struggle and more on the titanic battle between gods and devils. For example, the Greeks held a celebration similar in nature to Sacaea and Zagmuk, during which they assisted Kronos in his combat against the Titans, who were led by Zeus. For Scandinavians the battle between the forces of light and dark were even more serious. On the thirty-fifth day after the disappearance of the sun scouts would be sent to the mountains to look for signs of its return. It is understandable that after such a long period of darkness massive festivals were held, in the form of Yuletide, from which we derive the Yule log. Evergreen and mistletoe boughs were considered excellent weapons against the spirits that ran amok during the short days of winter.

In the early days of Christianity the religion was struggling to establish itself against the popular Roman gods, and the Mithraism of the Persians. Mithra--unstoppable god of the sun--figured prominently in both of these religions; he was an infant god born from rock, born on December 25th. While it is not ever stated in the Bible, Julius I, Bishop of Rome, decreed in 350 AD December 25th the official observance of Christ's birth. This seems somewhat suspect considering that shepherds wouldn't be herding during winter. Regardless, this policy allowed converts to continue their traditional celebrations, allowing Christianity even greater appeal.

Other features taken from the Roman Saturnalia are garlands, visiting family and friends, large feasts, decorating trees with lit candles, and everybody's favorite: gift giving. Sinterclass, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, and Santa Claus are all variations on the Bishop of Myra, Saint Nicholas. Having died in 340 AD, he was renowned for his charity, especially to children. Italy has La Befana, a beneficent witch clad in black who delivers gifts to children on January 6, and Scandinavian countries have an elf that delivers goodies. In Switzerland the Christ Child actually appears and gives gifts to children directly! And, for those naughty children, some of these gift-bearing entities have dark sidekicks who will steal children or beat them severely with a rod.

Despite the fact that the general public is no longer able to terrorize the gentry, and some children live under threat of being tormented by supernatural creatures, Christmas remains the most anticipated holiday in most Christian lands.

-John Edward Lawson