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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 the 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.
|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.|
| Voiced by|
|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.|
|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|
(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.|
|The Jetsons: "A Jetson Christmas Carol"||1985|
|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.|
| David Saville|
(voiced by Ross Bagdasarian Jr.)
|Alvin and the Chipmunks: "Merry Christmas, Mr. Carroll"||1989|
| Voiced by|
|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 Warner|
(voiced by Jess Harnell)
|Animaniacs: "A Christmas Plotz"||1993|
| Rocky the Penguin|
(voiced by Rob Rackstraw)
|Avenger Penguins: "A Christmas Carol"||1994|
| 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.|
| Voiced by|
|A Christmas Carol||1997||The Spirit is portrayed as a mischievous young boy in a messenger boy's outfit.|
(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|
(voiced by Lee Tockar)
|Adventures from the Book of Virtues: "Compassion"||2000|
|Gary Coleman||A Carol Christmas||2003|
|A Christmas Carol: The Musical||2004||The Ghost first appears in the real world as a lamplighter.|
| 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.|
| Voiced by|
|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.|
(voiced by Melissa Sturm)
|The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol||2011||Smurfette as the Smurf of Christmas Past resembles a snow fairy.|
| Little Apple|
(voiced by Daneboe)
|The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: Orange Carol||2012|
|Monche||La CQ: "Christmas in the CQ"||2012|
|Salty||Diesel's Ghostly Christmas||2015||Salty wears a fish net, and stands on a boat.|
(voiced by Ashleigh Ball)
|My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: "A Hearth's Warming Tail"||2016||Applejack plays a character similar to the Ghost of Christmas Past named the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past. She also fulfills Jacob Marley's role of foreshadowing the other spirits' arrival.|
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.
- In a loose adaptation on the Disney Channel series "Shake It Up!," Rocky Blue visits CeCe Jones in her dream as "The Ghost of Christmas Dance" who tries to show CeCe the consequences of breaking up her mother's relationship with her boyfriend, in the episode "Merry Merry It Up."