Sure, about a million versions of A Christmas Carol get air time over the holidays, but otherwise it's not really a familiar practice as we yanks gather around the fireplace on December 24.
Audible may raise a little more American awareness of holiday chills with their free holiday download of David Suchet reading "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" by M.R. James.
(A free e-text version is here.)
I like to tell my students James (1862-1936) was sort of the Stephen King of his day, offering up tales of ghosts, demons and curses set in the everyday world of his time rather than say, the Castle of Otranto.
"Oh Whistle" from 1904 provides a great taste of James with building mystery and menace. Suchet's most famous for his Hercule Poirot portrayal of course, but it's his more natural British voice and not his affected Belgian accent here.
Assuming multiple characters while narrating, he seems the perfect voice for a James story. If you can settle back and shut out the world around you, he'll take you softly and subtly along with young Professor Parkins.
At the request of a fellow teacher, Parkins agrees to inspect local ruins in the little seaside town of Burnstow, where he takes a room at the Globe Inn, in spite of warnings that ghosts might be about.
He makes interesting discoveries as he prowls the ruins and grows more engrossed in historic finds. Of course he finds a whistle.
What happens when you blow an ancient whistle? If you listen carefully and with imagination unleashed, you'll scary things.
Happily this is just one of several recordings of Suchet reading James. Great tales including "The Ash Tree" and "Casting the Runes," basis for the classic Night of the Demon, are also on hand.
Get into the holiday spirit with a listen, and for more on the Victorian ghost traditions check out this Guardian article.