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The Ghost of Christmas Past

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TheGhostofChristmasPast

Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Past. Original 1843 illustration by John Leech

The Ghost of Christmas Past is a character from the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Role in the story

The Ghost of Christmas past was the first of the three spirits (after the visitation by Jacob Marley) that haunted the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in order to prompt him to repent. He 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. He had on his head a blazing light, reminiscent of a candle flame. He carried with him 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”.

The Ghost of Christmas Past first showed Scrooge his old boarding school where he was deserted by his father who bore a grudge against because his mother died in his childbirth. Then he was shown the day when his beloved, younger sister Fan picked him up from there after repeatedly asking their father (described as a cold and unloving man) if he could come back home. Next, Scrooge was shown an episode from his time as an apprentice to Mr. Fezziwig, which started merely three days after the above and *only* visit home after so many years without. The spirit also showed Scrooge the day when, as a young man, he compelled Belle, his fiancée, 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 (this part is often skipped in adaptations of the story). After this vision, Scrooge, out of anger, extinguished the Ghost of Christmas Past with his cap and found himself back in his bedroom.

Portrayals

Picture Performer Production Year Notes
Ann Rutherford A Christmas Carol 1938 The Ghost is portrayed as a sweet-faced young woman looking somewhat like an angel.
A Christmas Carol 1951 The Ghost is an elderly man. In this version, the story is changed so that Fran is older than Ebenezer, and the ghost shows him his sister's death through childbirth. This echoes Scrooge's own birth, since his mother died during his childbirth, which was shown as the reason for his father's bitterness towards him.
GhostOfChristmasPast-Magoo
Voiced by
Joan Gardner
Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol 1962 The Ghost is portrayed as a young, slight, androgynous figure with a flame above his/her head, a sprig of holly and an orange glow.
Ghost of Christmas Past
Famous Classic Tales: A Christmas Carol 1969
Scrooge 1970 The Ghost is portrayed as an elderly but elegant lady with a red dress and a black hat.
A Christmas Carol 1982 The Ghost of Christmas Past is a Cupid-like young man.
Jiminy Cricket as The Ghost of Christmas Past
Jiminy Cricket
(voiced by Eddie Carrol)
Mickey's Christmas Carol 1983 It should be noted that, in the original vinyl record that inspired the special, the Ghost was portrayed not by Jiminy, but by Merlin from The Sword in the Stone.
A Christmas Carol 1984 The Ghost is portrayed as a middle-aged woman with blonde hair and a white robe rather than a childlike, long white-haired figure as described in the novel.
A Jetson Christmas Carol - The Ghost of Christmas Past
The Jetsons: "A Jetson Christmas Carol" 1985
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The Real Ghostbusters: "Xmas Marks the Spot" 1986
David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) Scrooged 1988 The Ghost of Christmas Past is portrayed as a New York cab driver with a Brooklyn accent.
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Voiced by
Jessica Fox
The Muppet Christmas Carol 1992 Rather than use a Muppet character to portray the spirit, the filmmakers re-imagined the character; this version appeared as a tiny, ghostly child of ambiguous gender, dressed in white and floating as if immersed in water.
Wakko as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Wakko Warner
(voiced by Jess Harnell)
Animaniacs: "A Christmas Plotz" 1993
Rocky as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Rocky the Penguin
(voiced by Rob Rackstraw)
Avenger Penguins: "A Christmas Carol" 1994
Wilma as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Wilma Flintstone
(voiced by Jean Vander Pyl)
A Flintstones' Christmas Carol 1994 Wilma ends up portraying the ghost after the actress originally hired for the role suddenly comes down with the Bedrock Bug.
Portrayed by
Jennifer Clement and Nicole Parker.
Ebbie 1995 The Ghost is portrayed as two spirits with but a single thought.
A Christmas Carol 1997 The Spirit is portrayed as a mischievous young boy in a messenger boy's outfit.
Cadpig as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Cadpig
(voiced by Kath Soucie)
101 Dalmatians: "A Christmas Cruella" 1997
Joel Grey A Christmas Carol 1999 The Ghost is portrayed as a childlike, white haired figure as described in the novel.
Kathy Griffin A Diva's Christmas Carol 2000
Gary Coleman A Carol Christmas 2003
A Christmas Carol: The Musical 2004 The Ghost first appears in the real world as a lamplighter.
Looney-tunes-navidad-poster
Tweety and Granny
(voiced by Bob Bergen and June Foray)
Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas 2006
A Christmas Carol 2006 The Ghost is portrayed as an anthropomorphic stork.
Carol-disneyscreencaps com-3531
Voiced by
Jim Carrey
A Christmas Carol 2009 Similar to the original novel, the spirit appears as a candle-like being with an occasionally flickering flame for his head.
Smurf Of Christmas Past
Smurfette
(voiced by Melissa Sturm)
The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol 2011 Smurfette as the Smurf of Christmas Past resembles a snow fairy.
Instantánea 5 (19-12-2012 20-13)
Little Apple
(voiced by Daneboe)
The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: Orange Carol 2012
Monche
Monche La CQ: "Christmas in the CQ" 2012

In other media

  • In the animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the Ghost is parodied as the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future, a robot with a penchant of making houses run with elf blood and telling long-winded, incomprehensible stories about the origins of Christmas.
  • In a theater production she was Scrooge's sister, but he didn't realize this until she disappeared.

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