The Ghost of Christmas Past

Real Name


First Appearance

A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. (19 December 1843)

Created by

Charles Dickens


The Ghost of Christmas Past was the first of the three spirits that haunted the miser, Ebenezer Scrooge in order to prompt him to repent. It showed him scenes from his past that occurred on or around Christmas, in order to demonstrate to him the necessity of changing his ways, as well as to show the reader how Scrooge came to be the person he was and his particular dislike for Christmas – most of the events which negatively affected Scrooge occurred around the Christmas holiday season.

According to Dickens' novel, the Ghost of Christmas Past appears to Scrooge as a white-robed, androgynous figure of indeterminate age. It had on its head a blazing light, reminiscent of a candle flame, and carried a metal cap, made in the shape of a candle extinguisher. While the ghost is often portrayed as a woman in most dramatic adaptations, Dickens describes the Ghost of Christmas Past only as “it”, and gives a curious description of it "being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away."

Role in the Story

The Ghost of Christmas Past first showed Scrooge his old boarding school where he stayed (alone but for his books) while his schoolmates returned to their homes for the Christmas holidays. Then, he was shown the day when his beloved younger sister Fan picked him up from the school after repeatedly asking their father to allow his return. Then, he was shown an episode from his time as an apprentice to Mr. Fezziwig.

Ghost of Christmas Past

Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Past.

The spirit also showed Scrooge the day when, as a young man, his fiancée, Belle, chose to end their relationship as his increasing obsession with his money caused him to alienate her. Scrooge never asked Belle to break off their engagement, but he did not protest against her decision. Finally, the Ghost showed him how she married and found true happiness with another man. After this vision, Scrooge, out of anger, extinguished the Ghost of Christmas Past with his cap and found himself back in his bedroom.

Public Domain Appearances


  • A Christmas Carol


  • Scrooge, or, Marley's Ghost (1908)
  • A Christmas Carol (1908)
  • A Christmas Carol (1910)
  • Scrooge (1913)
  • A Christmas Carol (1914)
  • The Right to Be Happy (1916)
  • Scrooge (1935)

See Also

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