Shakespeare talks about it, Andy Williams talks about it, even Washington Irving talks about it, so let’s admit it, ghost stories are winter’s tales. Although Hanukah has a touch of the supernatural about it, Christmas, which is pretty much a non-supernatural event in the Gospels (except for the whole star business) has somehow become the province of ghosts.
As Jerome K. Jerome said, “It is always Christmas Eve, in a ghost story.” Henry James’ Turn of the Screw is set at Christmas, as is Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, and the master of the form, M.R. James, always took a break from wrestling with the boys to tell his ghost stories at Christmas. But the man who made the Christmas ghost story literary is Charles Dickens, whose most famous work, A Christmas Carol, was one of the first great disasters in self-publishing, the novella that pretty much invented modern Christmas, and a sneaky protest book disguised as a dose of good cheer.