Way back in 1843, the first commercial Christmas card was created in England by Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant who was responsible for the idea of sending greetings scribbled into the now familiar cards we get around the season of good cheer.
Today, we mail a variety of cards at Christmastime. The tradition of Christmas cards continues in a broader sense. Social and electronic media keep us connected in this modern world more than ever before. However, the Christmas card continues to be a part of our annual tradition, even if it takes on a different style or pattern.
- Photo cards – Many families take an annual holiday photo specifically for mailing to friends and family. These photos may be snapshots or professional photos. Most families save them from social media, so they remain a surprise when they arrive in the mail, too.
- Christmas letter – These letters often highlight the events for each family member for the year. Not everyone has social media, so it’s a nice way to catch up with friends and family. The letters usually run a page in length, but some letter writers have a lot more to say.
- Postcards – These simple cards generally send the same holiday message a regular Christmas card does, but without a fold or an envelope. With a photo on one side and a simple message on the other, they are quick and easy to send, too.
- Business card – Christmas cards also come from businesses who want to remind us they still want our business. As a marketing tool, businesses know their best customers like to be remembered during the holidays, too.
- New Year’s cards – The holidays do get busy, and some of us put off sending any holiday cards until New Year. They still want to keep in touch with family and friends, so they send their good wishes in the form of a Happy New Year card. So, don’t mark anyone off your Christmas card list until after the first of the year.
These holiday cards may be the only communication we receive all year long from a friend or family member. Even if we spent an abundance of time with them once, these once-a-year notes touch us with a bit of meaning this time of year. We take the time to connect once again and say, “We’re thinking of you.”
Learn about Christmas Card Day
Christmas Card Day is all about paying tribute to the creation of this type of greeting card. For some people, they love nothing more than purchasing Christmas cards for everyone they know and writing special messages inside. For others, they can’t remember when they last sent anyone a Christmas card. No matter what category you fall into, there is no denying that it is nice to send people cards at Christmas and to wish them well for the year ahead. If you don’t usually send Christmas cards, why not make this the year that you finally do?
History of Christmas Card Day
Christmas Card Day honors its inventor on the 9th of December. The first ever commercial Christmas card showed a family raising a toast, and in the following year’s designs showing flowers or depicting the promise of spring were favored. Lithograph firm Prang and Mayer started selling their whimsical Christmas cards, often featuring children or cartoon animals, across the pond to America in 1874. By 1880, Prang and Mayer were producing a massive five million cards a year.
With so many designs, shapes and sizes, some Christmas cards have become collector’s items which have been known to shift at a pretty penny at auction. One of the world’s first cards, commissioned by Cole and produced by J. C. Horsley, saw the hammer come down at £22,250 in 2001. Another one of Horsley’s cards sold for almost £9000 in 2005 – and if you want to see a big collection of these coveted cards you can drop by the British Museum to see Queen Mary’s early 1900s collection.
Today, seasonal cards are posted all over the world and can be found in hundreds of thousands of designs. The most popular messages you’ll find inside a Christmas card are ‘seasons greetings’ and ‘merry Christmas, and a happy new year’ – but many also stick to religious roots by featuring a short biblical verse or a religious blessing.