Monday, December 5, 2016


   Christmas cards are one of the most popular holiday traditions we have today.  They are mailed out all over the world to friends, family and acquaintances during the holiday season every year.  They are available in any size, shape or color imaginable, and with a countless variety of thoughful messages.  However, some may be interested in learning about the history of Christmas cards and how they came to be so popular in our society today.
   The custom of sending greeting cards dates back to Ancient China.  In order to celebrate the New Year, the ancient Chinese delighted in sending messages of good will.  Early Egyptians utilized papyrus scrolls to send their greeting.  New Year's tidings were being produced in Germany as early as the 1400's.

  The origin of the Christmas card is in England.  They are a product of boys practicing their writing skills.  The boys would practice by making cards for their parents.
   The history of Christmas cards goes all the way back to the year 1843, where the very first Christmas card on record was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole.  The illustrations, which depicted a family, including a small child, enjoying wine together, was created by the artist John Calcott Horsley.  The Illustration, and the concept of the Christmas card itself, create a fair amount of controversy.  However, one thousand of the cards were reproduced, and each one sold for one shilling.  This was how the Christmas card came into being.

1st Mass Produced Christmas Card

   Most Christmas cards come in religious themes, though they can also come in themes ranging from modern art to humorous and anything else imaginable.  Surprisingly enough, the earliest Christmas cards were not often designed with a religious theme.  The designs typically depicted cheerful colors and floral art to symbolize a celebration of the coming spring.  The history of Christmas cards seems to have been mostly about the promise of hope.
   Another interesting tidbit in the history of Christmas cars relates to the first royal Christmas card, and the royal family has continued the tradition of producing one each year, typically in the form of a seasonal family portrait.  American president Dwight D. Eisenhower, is also known to be a "first" in sending out Christmas cards, as he issued his Christmas card in the year 1953.

1961 Presidential Christmas card exterior

1961 Presidential card interior

Other Tidbits of Interest About Christmas Cards

  • In the U.S., Louis Prang produced the first commercial Christmas cards.  He was a German immigrant, who in 1856, started a little lithographic business close to Boston.  He is considered the creator of the greeting card industry in the U.S.  More than 5 million card were being produced by 1881.  His cards gained increasing popularity through the 1890's.  Prong stopped producing greeting cards when cheaper imports came onto the market.
  • Today's Christmas cards can be bought as singles or in large boxes.  Individual cards are usually sent to somebody special, while the boxed ones are very helpful for your more general Christmas mailing list.  The majority of holiday cards are sold in box form.
  • In 2006, 2 billion people in the U.S. sent cards.
  • That means, 85% of people in the U.S. mailed cards in 2006.
  • Approximately 33% of the holiday cards purchased each year contain a religious message.
  • About a third of all annual greeting card sales are related to the holiday season.

  • Christmas cards are the most popular cards of any season.  Christmas cards account for 60% of all card sales.  A distant second is Valentine's Day at 25%.
  • The U.S. is home to approximately 3,000 greeting card publishers.
  • "Merry Christmas" is the preferred text for 54% of holiday card purchasers.  "Season's Greetings", is liked by 12%, and "Happy Holidays" is preferred by 21%.
  • When it comes to deciding which boxed card to buy, 56% of us take the decision based on the variety of cards available, and for 63%, price is the most influential factor.  Shopping with online distributors can easily satisfy both conditions.  Unlike a typical store, they can display more cards without space limitations.

   Many people are now becoming very environmentally conscious when it  comes to sending out their Christmas cards.  Every year, with millions of cards being bought, they are read once and then thrown away.  However, there are now receptacles in place for recycling these paper goods.  Several companies are even selling cards which are made only from recycled materials.  Another great way that people are utilizing for giving out Christmas cards that are environmentally friendly are with E-cards.  With E-cards, one can send out as many cards as they could possibly need over the Internet, eliminating any paper waste and saving the cost of stamps.  In addition, E-cards are often free.  If the past history of Christmas cards is any indication, no matter which type of card one chooses to send, the card industry is still going to be booming for years to come.

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