Horror and the Holidays

Pen and ink colored illustration of a small, scraggly pine tree decorated by a large gray dragon, looking down affectionately at a little purple creature popping out of a box. Beneath streams "Merry Christmas in brown letters.
Monsters and critters enjoy decorating the beleaguered little pine tree for the holidays.

I thought I was done with any horror themes for a while, then remembered a blast from the past–watching horror movies during the holidays, particularly Dracula and Mary Reilly. An antidote to the requisite cheerfulness and overabundance of sweets? Perhaps, but upon reading the introduction in the Biblioasis version of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1952 short story The Apple Tree, I came across this:

The telling or reading of ghost stories during long, dark, and cold Christmas nights is a yuletide ritual dating back to at least the eighteenth century, and was once as much a part of Christmas tradition as decorating fir trees, feasting on goose, and the singing of carols.” (from Biblioasis, 978-1-77196-317-6)

Photo of small paperback of Daphne Du Maurier's 1952 short story The Apple Tree.
Photo of Daphne Du Maurier’s short story The Apple Tree, 1952, published by Biblioasis.

Who knew? I didn’t. But then, of course, one of the best known Christmas stories is Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, which is essentially a ghost story. (And if you’re into story structure, the climax in the version I read lands exactly at the 90% mark!)

Who else knew? Turns out Edward Pola and George Wyle, writers of 1963’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” knew:

"There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of the
Christmases long, long ago..."

So, how about we skip hearing me sing and look for old holiday horror shorts instead? Biblioasis (www.biblioasis.com) publishes cute, small editions of single stories, or perhaps John Polidori The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre (Oxford University Press, http://www.oup/worldsclassics 978-0-19-955241-2). Only one story is written by Polidori, a contemporary of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron, his employer for a short time. The other thirteen stories hail from various authors, originally printed between 1819-1838. Additional suggestions welcome!

Horror and the Holidays. Bad times and good times. Downs and Ups. Isn’t that pretty much life? Next time: Beasts in the Books–watch out!

Be good, y’all!

Published by Morra Rose

I love the links between life and literature, and couldn't get by day-to-day without a little humor. Here's my place to share thoughts and discoveries in bite-sized pieces, illustrated by my sister Morra Morron. Enjoy!

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