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.
The 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.
How to Celebrate Christmas Card Day
If you’ve got time, it’s always nice to make handmade cards to send out. Get hold of some glitter and a dab of glue, and see what you can come up with. The recipients are sure to appreciate it – or if you have children, get them involved in making cards for friends and family!
With the advent of e-mail, it’s easier than ever to send Christmas wishes to friends and family across the world – e-cards appeared in the 90s and are frequently used in place of physical cards, so you’ve got no excuse nowadays not to send those season’s greetings. But since nothing beats the real thing, perhaps now is the right time to send out those Christmas cards so they all get to your family and friends before the last post on 23rd December!
And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you could always send out some cheery cards to celebrate the coming of the new year!