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

I told you these were shadows of the things that have been. That they are what they are, do not blame me!

— The Ghost, laying into Scrooge with no let

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 is the first of the three spirits (after the visitation by Jacob Marley) who haunts the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in order to prompt him to repent. He shows 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 shows Scrooge his old boarding school where he was deserted by his father, described as a cold and unloving man, who bore a grudge against him because his mother died in his childbirth. Then, he is shown the day when his beloved, younger sister Fan picked him up from there after repeatedly asking their father if he could come back home. Next, Scrooge is 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 shows 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 shows him how she married and found true happiness with another man (this part is often skipped in adaptations). After this vision, Scrooge, out of anger, extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Past with his cap and finds himself back in his bedroom.

Portrayals

Picture Performer Production Year Notes
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Unknown Scrooge, or, Marley's Ghost 1901 The first known film portrayal of the Ghost of Christmas Past. The ghost is portrayed by an unknown actor, wearing a white sheet over his or her head.
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Ann Rutherford A Christmas Carol 1938 The Ghost is portrayed as a sweet-faced young woman, looking somewhat like an angel.
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Michael Dolan 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.
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Voiced by
Joan Gardner
Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol 1962 The Ghost is portrayed as a young, slight girl with a flame above her head, a sprig of holly and an orange glow.
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Famous Classic Tales: A Christmas Carol 1969
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Edith Evans Scrooge 1970 The Ghost is portrayed as an elderly but elegant lady with a red dress and a black hat.
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Voiced by
Paul Frees
The Stingiest Man in Town 1978
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A Christmas Carol 1982 The Ghost of Christmas Past is a Cupid-like young man.
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Jiminy Cricket
(voiced by Eddie Carrol)
Mickey's Christmas Carol 1983 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.
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Angela Pleasence 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.
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The Jetsons: "A Jetson Christmas Carol" 1985
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The Real Ghostbusters: "Xmas Marks the Spot" 1986
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David Johansen (a.k.a. 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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David Saville
(voiced by Ross Bagdasarian Jr.)
Alvin and the Chipmunks: "Merry Christmas, Mr. Carroll" 1989
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Wendy Darling
(voiced by Christina Lange)
Peter Pan and the Pirates: "Hook's Christmas" 1990
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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.
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Wakko Warner
(voiced by Jess Harnell)
Animaniacs: "A Christmas Plotz" 1993
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Rocky the Penguin
(voiced by Rob Rackstraw)
Avenger Penguins: "A Christmas Carol" 1994
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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.
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Portrayed by
Jennifer Clement and Nicole Parker
Ebbie 1995 The Ghost is portrayed as two spirits with but a single thought.
Tom Anderson Christmas Past.png Tom Anderson (voiced by Mike Judge) A Beavis and Butt-head Christmas 1995 Tom Anderson plays the role of the Spirit of Christmas Past and appears while Beavis is trying to watch a Christmas Carol style porno.
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Voiced by
Kath Soucie
A Christmas Carol 1997 The Spirit is portrayed as a mischievous young boy in a messenger boy's outfit.
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Cadpig
(voiced by Kath Soucie)
101 Dalmatians: "A Christmas Cruella" 1997
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Itchy
(voiced by Dom DeLuise)
An All Dogs Christmas Carol 1998
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Joel Grey A Christmas Carol 1999 The Ghost is portrayed as a childlike, white haired figure as described in the novel.
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Hilda Spellman Sabrina: The Animated Series: "Witchmas Carole" 1999
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Kathy Griffin A Diva's Christmas Carol 2000
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Aristotle
(voiced by Lee Tockar)
Adventures from the Book of Virtues: "A Christmas Carol" 2000
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Jane Horrocks Christmas Carol: The Movie 2001 In this version, the Ghost is portrayed as female and can change her appearance from a young girl to an elderly woman at will.
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Gary Coleman A Carol Christmas 2003
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Jane Krakowski A Christmas Carol: The Musical 2004 The Ghost first appears in the real world as a lamplighter.
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Jen Masterson 6teen: "In a Retail Wonderland..." 2005
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Tweety and Granny
(voiced by Bob Bergen and June Foray)
Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas 2006
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Kappa Mikey: "A Christmas Mikey" 2006
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A Christmas Carol 2006 The Ghost is portrayed as an anthropomorphic stork.
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Michelle
(voiced by Lisa Kudrow)
American Dad!: "The Best Christmas Story Never" 2006 A former tooth fairy who takes Stan back in time to try and regain his spirit of Christmas.
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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.
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Smurfette
(voiced by Melissa Sturm)
The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol 2011 Smurfette as the Smurf of Christmas Past resembles a snow fairy.
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Little Apple
(voiced by Daneboe)
The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: "Orange Carol" 2012
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Monche La CQ: "Christmas in the CQ" 2012
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Salty
(voiced by Keith Wickham)
Thomas & Friends: "Diesel's Ghostly Christmas" 2015 Salty wears a fish net, and stands on a boat.
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Himself
(voiced by Elliot Gough)
Eddsworld: "Christmas Eddventure" 2015 Tom captures the Ghost of Christmas pasts through suck in him with a vacuum.
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RoseBud Camp Lakebottom: "Smells Like the Holidays" 2016 When McGee catches a smell that leads him to the swamp, the "gassy" past ghost appears in the form of RoseBud.
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Applejack
(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.
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Mr. Bugly Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!: "Scroogey Doo" 2017 Christmas Past is the first ghost the gang encounters. After cornering Velma by a mirror, Bugly hypnotizes her with the coin's reflection, taking her back to her childhood, when she was studying and experimenting before she joined the gang. The spirit then claims her destiny was destroyed when others eventually discovered her ideas and inventions.
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Anna Murphy The Man Who Invented Christmas 2017 As Dickens is trying to sleep, his vision of Scrooge appears in a night cap and shirt holding a candle. They both go downstairs and meet the Ghost of Christmas Past. The spirit then gives Dickens flashbacks of his childhood, when his family was taken to Debtor's Prison and he had to work in a shoe polish factory.
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Blossom
(voiced by Amanda Leighton)
The Powerpuff Girls: "You're a Good Man, Mojo Jojo" 2017
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Voiced by
Jack McBrayer
DuckTales: "Last Chrismas" 2018
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Andy Serkis (Episode #1) A Christmas Carol 2019
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Daisy
(Voiced by Kate Micucci)
Nature Cat: "A Nature Carol" 2019
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Demi Vampirina: "A Gargoyle Carol" 2019
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Lisa Loud
(voiced by Lara Miller)
The Loud House: "A Flipmas Carol" 2020 Lincoln Loud's second-youngest and smartest sister appears to remind Flip of the incident that turned him into the greedy con-man he is now. Ironically, Lisa is the least likely Loud sister to believe in the supernatural.

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 the Shake It Up! episode "Merry Merry 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.
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