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.
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 December 9th. 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!
If you take a look online, you will see that there is plenty of inspiration when it comes to making your own Christmas card. So, if you are struggling in terms of ideas, don’t worry, just do a little bit of digging on Instagram and Pinterest!
Plus, there are a lot of different websites nowadays that enable you to personalize cards or upload photos and make your own photo card. While you have no technically made the card from scratch yourself, there is still a bit of personalization there, and so this is an option to consider if you do not consider yourself a very creative person!
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!
If you are someone who keeps all of their Christmas cards, you could use this date as an opportunity to go through them all and read the different messages that you have received from people over the years.
You can also spend this day learning about different Christmas traditions. After all, giving Christmas cards to people is just one of many traditions around the festive period. For example, a lot of people hang Christmas wreaths on their front door during December. The wreath has a long and complex history that dates back to the Persian Empire. Here, a form of wreath or garland identified as a ‘diadem’, was worn around the head.
Later versions made of laurel leaves were utilized to honor and crown the winners during the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. Both of these incidences pre-date the birth of Christ and bear little resemblance to the Christmas wreaths today. However, the link with the Olympics may come from the fact that as the games began to travel between different cities, the winners’ prizes would be made from the branches of local trees.
It is also believed that after the games, people would hang the wreaths on doors or walls as a type of memento. A more direct link between historical circular decorations and the Christmas wreaths of today can be found in stories from Sweden. Here, young girls wore a crown of lights during the time of Advent to commemorate St. Lucia’s Day.
The crown consists of a wreath bearing candles and commemorates a young Christian martyr who presented her dowry to the poor. It can certainly be interesting to delve into different Christmas traditions and learn more about the history of them and where they came from.
And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you could always send out some cheery cards to celebrate the coming of the new year!