Americans generally don’t associate Christmas with horror, but there is actually a long standing tradition of ghost stories being told at Yuletide. I imagine that whole darkest point o the year thing has long played games with the human mind.
The ghost story that modern Christmas fans will most likely be familiar with is Dicken’s A Christmas Carol-which I sadly have to admit that I just heard in its entirity last night for the first time. However, the story is so situated in the modern celebrations of the season that the basic story, with its emphasis on charity, hope, and change, that even without hearing or reading the original novella many Americans can tell you the basic plot.
I’ve read that the story, originally published in 1843, ignited the spark that eventually grew into the modern expectation for charity and care during the Christmas season. The story certainly expresses a deep desire to highlight the plight of a class of people who would not have a merry Yuletide without the concern of the higher class. Dickens had firsthand experience with families like the Cratchits, which shows throughout his work.
The book was accepted almost immediately, receiving postitive reviews in both Britain and America. The story was quickly adapted for theacterical production, and was first put on screen in 1901. Dickens himself read the story outloud for public performances for close to 30 years prior to his death.