‘It was only a Winter’s Tale’

21 December 2023

Two hundred years ago, the 23rd of December 1823 to be precise, one of best-known and most influential poems ever written was published in New York’s Troy Sentinel newspaper. Accredited to Clement Clarke Moore, an esteemed professor and poet, this piece was initially called “A Visit from St Nicholas” but now is known more commonly as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.

Little did Moore anticipate the profound and lasting impact his poem would have. By bringing together diverse cultural practises of old he moulded a story that has influenced society ever since. Moore’s poem played its part in shifting the celebration to Christmas Eve, gave the reindeer names, emphasised their role in pulling the sleigh, introduced a more joyful and fatter Santa and enhanced the idea of delivering presents down chimneys. All in all, the poem was a harbinger of change. A glimpse into the future evolution of Christmas.

As we have written before, the power to change the world lies almost entirely in the storytelling. An investor, if this poem had been taken seriously back in 1823, could have perhaps foretold the arrival of consumerism, the obesity epidemic and even next day delivery! Was it just a coincidence Cadbury’s was founded the next year?

Okay we are stretching some points here but to peer into the future, one might argue that delving into the pages of books is a more insightful endeavour than fixating on the constant stream of news. While the news provides snapshots of current events, books offer a deeper exploration of human experiences, give an historical context, and evolve ideas that shape societies. Science fiction becomes science fact as they say.

So perhaps if you could give yourself one Christmas present this year it could be to turn off your BBC mobile news alerts. Is there an alert that reminds you to read a couple of pages of a book instead? It may well make for both a happier Christmas and more productive New Year. MVAM is an investor in Bloomsbury, a publisher of the Harry Potter and Throne of Glass series. It has had a good year, so there is still hope for the future.

Thank you for reading our newsletters this year and we wish you a Merry Christmas.

With Love from all at MVAM.