A little quote…


Christmas Cards

The First Commercially Produced Christmas Cards

In England, in 1843, Sir Henry Cole asked John Callcott Horsley to illustrate a card that he could have printed. He had a thousand copies made and then sent some out as answers to his mail. That way, he wouldn’t have to actually answer all the letters he had received and wouldn’t be considered rude either. The cards had a place to put the persons name and said “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You.” It was considerably easier to send these because of the postal systems that were becoming more common such as Penny Post, which Cole had a hand in.

Cole and Horsley Christmas Card
Card by Prang

It took a few years for Christmas cards to become really popular. Louis Prang had a print shop in Boston and in 1875 they had made their first Christmas card for the American market. Their first card was a flower with the words “Merry Christmas” on it. The designs varied over the years with the designs being more traditional holiday images. When a more inexpensive option started to come in from Germany, Prang decided to retire rather than make any compromises or changes. He is still considered the “father of the American Christmas card.”

1967, President Johnson’s White House Christmas Card

Modern Christmas Cards

The “official” Christmas card began with the familial images of Victoria and Albert in the 1840s. In 1953, President Eisenhower sent out the first official White House Christmas card. This has continued each year with the list of recipients growing.

Over time, many of these cards have become collectors items along with the stamps and other Christmas items. Many collectors look for the Santa’s, Nativity scenes or other particular Christmas images and those that were created by specific artists. The most expensive one to be bought and sold is one of the original cards by Horsley and Cole.

The actual act of sending Christmas cards has dwindled down quite a bit. Many, if they still do it at all, probably just send a card via email to their list of recipients. Most people who still send out actual cards only send out a select few each year. You always have those stragglers, it seems, that you missed. You need to send a card to them because they weren’t on your original list or you didn’t have an address for them. That sounds vaguely familiar. Doesn’t that sound like Sir Cole having to answer his mail? At least we have a postal system that’s been in place longer than three years.

A Brief History of the Christmas Tree

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

The Christmas Tree

In many countries throughout history, evergreens were used during festive seasons. This was because people thought that they kept away evil and illness. The Egyptians, Romans, Celts and Vikings, among others, all used evergreens in festivals particularly around the solstice. The Romans marked their mid-winter with a festival called Saturnalia to honor the god Saturn, or their god of agriculture. They used the evergreens as decoration to show that their farms would soon be green again after the winter season.

The origins of the modern Christmas tree as we know it today, link back to the Middle Ages and particularly to Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries. There were a few other areas that also had similar traditions. As the popularity grew over time the traditions generally spread from Germany, especially in America where German settlers had their own trees or trees in their communities. Many in America still saw a Christmas tree as a pagan symbol as late as 1840.

The image that had been published of the family of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, surrounding their tree in 1848, helped boost the popularity especially as it was reprinted later in America. Trees became popular over time as different communities began to adopt the practice in the late 1800s and early 1900s. While homemade ornaments or those found in nature were used on most trees, it was when electricity came and brought with it Christmas lights that made Christmas trees a yearly tradition. Now, while many use fake trees instead of real trees, the sentiment is still the same.

“The best gifts in life will never be found under a Christmas tree, those gifts are friends, family, children and the one you love.” ~ Unknown