Dr. Kelly Bulkeley, author, religion psychologist, dream researcher, and director of the Sleep and Dream Database (SDDb) archives, wrote via Psychology Today about the different dreams people have around Christmas time. She noted that although these particular anecdotes pulled from the Sleep and Dream Database focus on Christianity-based holidays, holiday-related dreams are thought to be universal across religions.
Dr. Bulkeley explained that mild nightmares can be representative of the stress many of us feel around the holiday season. These types of dreams tend to be more realistic than fantastical in nature. Such examples include bad dreams about guests arriving late to a celebratory dinner, gifts being out of stock, getting lost in a crowded store, or an embarrassing blunder at a holiday party.
Sometimes, the holidays can rouse more terrifying nightmares representing our worst fears, Dr. Bulkeley added. In one anecdote pulled from the database, an individual describes seeing a skeleton in their bedroom donning a Santa hat. Another individual described a recurring nightmare of a looming Christmas tree adorned with colorful lights that becomes more threatening as it grows and whirls toward them. “Eventually I get sucked into the tree, and wake up in a sweat. To this day I use only white lights on my Christmas trees,” the dreamer recalled. For some, however, bad dreams during the holidays aren’t so much scary or stressful as they are painful.