What is the history of the Christmas card tradition?
If you have ever sent or received a Christmas card, you are taking part in a long-standing tradition that dates back nearly two centuries. The history of Christmas cards is a fascinating journey that spans centuries and continents, filled with intriguing facts and surprising stories.
The Beginnings of the Christmas Card Tradition
The first Christmas card is believed to have been created in 1843 in England by Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant who was looking for a way to encourage people to use the new penny postage system. He commissioned an artist, John Callcott Horsley, to design a card that could be printed and sold at an affordable price. The card featured a festive scene of a family gathered around a table, with a caption that read, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”
The Rise of Christmas Cards in Victorian England
The popularity of the first Christmas card led to the rise of a new industry in England, with other artists and printers creating their own designs. By the end of the 19th century, Christmas cards had become a staple of the holiday season, with millions of cards being sent each year.
The Christmas card tradition quickly spread to the United States, where it was embraced by Americans as a way to connect with loved ones during the holiday season. The first Christmas card in the United States is believed to have been printed in Boston in 1875.
Evolution of Christmas Card Designs
Over time, the design of Christmas cards has evolved to reflect changing trends and cultural values. Early cards often featured religious scenes and messages, but as the holiday became more secularized, the focus shifted to more secular themes like Santa Claus and winter landscapes.
The Importance of Christmas Cards Today
Despite the rise of digital communication, the tradition of sending Christmas cards remains strong today. In fact, many people see it as a way to connect with loved ones and spread holiday cheer. Some even use the opportunity to create their own cards, showcasing their creativity and personality.
In the early 20th century, the popularity of Christmas cards declined due to economic hardships and the availability of other forms of communication. However, they experienced a resurgence in the 1920s and have remained a beloved holiday tradition ever since.
The history of Christmas cards is a testament to the enduring power of traditions and the joy that they bring to our lives. Whether you prefer traditional religious scenes or more modern designs, there is no denying the importance of the Christmas card in our holiday celebrations. So next time you send or receive a Christmas card, take a moment to appreciate the rich history and tradition that you are a part of.